I&B ministry lifts 48-hour ban on Asianet News, Media One

I&B ministry lifts 48-hour ban on Asianet News, Media One

NEW DELHI: The government on Saturday revoked the 48-hour ban imposed on Friday on two Malayalam news channels for reportage that could "enhance communal disharmony" across the country.

The ban on Asianet News was lifted at 1.30 am, while the ban on Media One was lifted at 9.30 am on Saturday, and both were back on air, a source at the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting told PTI.

Later in Pune, I&B Minister Prakash Javadekar said the Centre has lifted the ban and the government supports the freedom of the press.

While Asianet News Editor M G Radhakrishnan said his channel's management had contacted the ministry after the ban was imposed and spoken with relevant people, explaining the channel's position, Media One Editor-in-chief C L Thomas said his channel had not reached out to the government and the ministry "suo motu" revoked the ban.

"We were proceeding for legal action. Today we got the information that the ban has been revoked, so we did not go ahead with the legal proceedings. We did not contact anyone in the ministry, the government suo motu lifted the ban," Thomas told PTI.

"We are happy that the ministry has suo motu lifted the ban. We will continue on the same path we have been following and upholding the classical values of journalism," he said.

Radhakrishnan said the channel's management spoke with the I&B ministry in an effort to "convince them".

"They (management) seemed to have succeeded in their attempt. Since it was night there was no time for making any formal application. They spoke with all the people concerned in the ministry and convinced them. That is what the minister has also come out saying today," he told PTI.

"There was no apology made from our side. The reporting was all factual," Radhakrishnan said.

Speaking to reporters in Pune, Javadekar said that he would look into the matter and issue orders if necessary.

He said the prime minister has expressed concern over the entire issue.

Javadekar also advocated "responsible freedom" for media.

The channels were suspended for 48 hours over their coverage of last month's communal violence in Delhi, with the official orders saying they covered events on February 25 in a manner that "highlighted the attack on places of worship and siding towards a particular community".

"Channel's reporting on Delhi violence seems to be biased as it is deliberately focusing on the vandalism of CAA supporters," the ministry order on Media One had said. "It also questions RSS and alleges Delhi Police inaction. Channel seems to be critical towards Delhi Police and RSS."

The ministry ordered prohibition of transmission or re-transmission of Media One and Asianet News for 48 hours on any platform throughout India with effect from 7.30 pm on Friday to 7.30 pm on Sunday.

The Congress and the CPI had come down hard on the government over the suspension of Media One and Asianet News, calling the clampdown as "stifling of media freedom".

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