A delegation of MPs from Kerala across party lines met the Information and Broadcasting minister, Anurag Thakur on Tuesday and raised their strong opposition to the dismissal of the broadcasting license of MediaOne TV, a leading Malayalam news channel.
Anurag Thakur told the delegation that his ministry had little to do with the issue, as it was the direction of the Home Ministry to cancel the security clearance of the channel.
“This sudden suspension without informing the reasons is gravely undemocratic. Union government should be held accountable for it,” said senior and Congress Kerala unit president K. Sudhakaran.
“We had no doubt in standing with MediaOne. That is why we rushed to the Broadcasting Ministry, as the case is due tomorrow in court. And we wanted to act in our capacities,” added Sudhakaran.
The leading Malayalam news channel was taken off air after the Union Information and Broadcasting Ministry’s order to suspend the channel transmission citing “security reasons.” Later, The Kerala High Court stayed the order issued by the Broadcasting ministry, revoking the broadcast license Mediaone TV till the next hearing date.
Following the court order, the channel had resumed broadcast temporarily.
“We have come here keeping away our political disagreements for a public cause. This is not an attack on MediaOne alone, nor is it an isolated incident. It has wider implications for everyone. This is just the tip of the iceberg. And if we choose to remain silent now, we will be later accused of permitting worse days,” said Indian Union Muslim League MP ET Muhammed Basheer.
Basheer also said they would raise the issue in Parliament.
“Take away your hands that tried to silence MediaOne. We can never accommodate such undemocratic moves of the central government. If BJP values democracy or press freedom, then they must revoke the ban on MediaOne,” said Binoy Vishwam, MP and national secretary of Communist Party of India (CPI).
“MediaOne has a stance. It has an ideology, perspective, and professional ethics. There might be disagreements with their politics. But curtailing their freedom is an attack on press freedom and the fourth pillar of the democracy,” added Vishwam.
“We need to protect the media rights of Mediaone. And we cannot let a media die this way,” Vishwam said.
“Tomorrow any media channel can be attacked. Last week almost 200 youtube channels have been banned. These are BJP’s political moves of silencing differing and disagreeing voices. We all are nationalistic. It is not BJP alone that can define what nationalism is,” said Shreyams Kumar MP who is also Managing Director of Mathrubhumi.
“India has come down to 142 in the Press Freedom Index. Moreover, the Broadcasting Ministry used to work independently previously. However, now they have been reduced to a subdivision to the Home Ministry,” said John Brittas, CPI(M) MP and journalist.
Ten MPs from Kerala held press meeting including, K Somaprasad, John Brittas, Ramya Haridas, M K Raghavan, Abdu Samad Samadani, Anto Antony, N K Premachandran, Binoy Vishwam, K Sudhakaran, Adoor Prakash, E T Muhammed Basheer, V K Shreekandan, Rajmohan Unnithan, Benni Behnan, Hibi Eden, A M Sheriff, Dean Kuryakose and T G Sivadasan.
The Malayalam news channel has moved the court regarding the ban and renewal of the broadcast license, after the Union issued a show-cause notice to MediaOne on January 5th.
The sudden ban had seen outrage from a wide array of people- politicians, media persons, activists.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, Opposition Leader VD Satheeshan, Speaker M.B. Rajesh, MPs, MLAs, political parties, rights activists, and journalist bodies condemned the ban as an attempt to shackle media.
In March 2020, the Union govt imposed a 48-hour ban on MediaOne for its reportage on the Delhi pogrom alleging
“channel seems to be critical towards Delhi Police and RSS.”