Kerala HC upholds Union govt's ban on MediaOne news channel

The channel had gone off air on January 31, after its license was not renewed by the Ministry of Information and Technology, citing ‘security concerns’.
MediaOne editor Pramod Raman
MediaOne editor Pramod Raman
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The Kerala High Court, on Tuesday, February 8, dismissed the plea filed by Madhyamam Broadcasting Limited, which operates the Malayalam television channel MediaOne TV and upheld the decision by the Union government to revoke its license. The court said that based on inputs from various intelligence agencies, the Union Home Ministry found that security clearance should not be renewed for the channel. Passing the order, the judge said that there were inputs that justified the decision. The channel is owned by Madhyamam Broadcasting Limited, where many of the investors are members of the Jamaat-e-Islami Hind.

The Union government had barred the telecast of the channel on January 31, after not renewing its license based on an order by the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting (I&B). The ministry had cited ‘security concerns’ as the reason behind the order. Within hours of MediaOne TV going off air, the channel challenged the move in the Kerala High Court, which put the order on hold for two days. The interim stay was on February 2 and was extended till February 7. In its plea, the channel had stated that it was not involved in any anti-national activity warranting such a bar on its operations.

The Kerala High Court on Monday, after hearing the arguments, extended the interim order for one more day, reserving its judgement. The Union government, during the arguments on Monday, contended that a security clearance once issued cannot continue forever. Assistant Solicitor General V Manu also opposed the pleas moved by the Kerala Union of Working Journalists (KUWJ) and the employees, saying that the issue was between the Union government and the company. The Union government had previously told the court that the security clearance for the channel was denied over “national security concerns”.

Meanwhile, the channel stated that MHA clearance was only required to obtain fresh permission or license and not for renewal. The KUWJ, editor of MediaOne TV Pramod Raman, and some employees of the channel were represented by senior advocate Jaju Babu, and they contended before the High Court that hundreds of employees of the channel will be deprived of a livelihood if the Union government's decision is not set aside. They also said that the action of the Union government was ‘illegal and unconstitutional’ as no violation of the permission or any Act or Rules have been alleged.

This was not the first time the channel had found itself in such a situation. MediaOne TV, along with another Malayalam news channel Asianet, was briefly suspended for 48 hours over their coverage of the Delhi riots in 2020. The official orders said that they covered the violence in a manner that "highlighted the attack on places of worship and siding towards a particular community".

Watch TNM's interview with Pramod Raman, Editor of MediaOne:

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