Center must not be allowed to abuse its powers to limit critical voices: Media One News staffers

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In early February, the Malayalam news channel MediaOne News went off the air after the Ministry of Interior denied security clearance for the channel’s license renewal. A statement from the organization is reproduced below:

MediaOne News, a Kerala-based news and current affairs television channel, suddenly and arbitrarily had its uplink and downlink license revoked by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting citing “national security” concerns. unspecified raised by the Ministry of the Interior. MediaOne News was initially licensed for ten years on 30.09.2011 and has been operating as a Malayalam language news channel for nine years. His application for renewal of his license was rejected by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting due to the denial of security clearance by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on January 31, 2022 without specifying concrete reasons and it was subsequently off-air.

MediaOne News is very popular in the state and has won numerous awards and accolades, including the state government. It has an audience of 15.4 million viewers in India and 3.2 million outside India. On digital platforms, the number of viewers is even bigger like 1.8 billion in India and 103.08 million outside India.

This arbitrary act by the MHA amounts to a violation of the freedom of speech and expression guaranteed by Article 19 of the Constitution, and also represents a crackdown on press freedom in India. We are also extremely disappointed with the decision of the Single Judge Bench of the High Court of Kerala which refused to overrule the MIB & MHA’s cancellation of MediaOne NEWS’ license and protect the fundamental right to freedom of speech and expression. The decision of the Single Judge Bench of the Kerala High Court was based on a ‘sealed cover’ envelope provided by the MHA, the contents of which have not been shared with MediaOne NEWS.

This goes against basic principles of natural justice, which require that physical evidence in any adjudication process, and especially in a case involving fundamental rights, must be shared with both parties to the dispute. We also find that the Honorable Court failed in its compelling duty as a constitutional court by failing to provide reasons for judgment and instead reiterating the MHA’s line regarding “intelligence inputs” and “security concerns”. national”.

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