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Ban On Asianet News, Media One Lifted; Channels Back On Air

I&B ministry had banned two Malayalam channels for 48 hours, stating that their reports sided “towards a particular community” among other violations.

New Delhi| The ministry of information and broadcasting on Saturday lifted the ban on two Kerala-based news channels over their coverage of the violence in Delhi over the amended citizenship law, news agency PTI quoted sources as saying.

The ministry of information and broadcasting had imposed a 48-hour ban on Asianet News and Media One, another Malayalam news channel, for their coverage of the Delhi violence for 48 hours from 7.30 pm on Friday.

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, a source at the ministry of information and broadcasting told PTI. The two channels had reportedly written to the ministry seeking revocation of the bans, following which it was lifted.

In orders issued late on Friday evening, the Information and Broadcasting Ministry said Asianet News and MediaOne TV had violated provisions of the Cable Television Networks Rules, 1994, by broadcasting reports on February 25 that “highlighted the attack on places of worship and siding towards a particular community”.

The ministry said that as per the rules “no programme should be carried… which contains attacks on religions or communities or visuals or words contemptuous of religious groups”.

Surprisingly, one of the reasons cited in the information and broadcasting ministry’s order banning Media One is this: “Channel’s reporting on Delhi violence seems to be biased as it is deliberately focusing on the vandalism of CAA supporters. It also questions RSS and alleges Delhi Police inaction. Channel seems to be critical towards Delhi Police and RSS.”

Also Read: Over 100 journalists boycott post-Budget dinner by FM Sitharaman to oppose ban

Earlier in the day former Union minister and Congress leader P Chidambaram had criticised Centre’s decision to suspend the transmission of two news channels.“The Ministry of I&B plays the roles of Prosecutor, Jury and Judge. This is a travesty of justice. All media entities should protest vehemently. The government must scrap the Shutdown order forthwith,” he tweeted.

Kerala Finance Minister Thomas Issac praised both channels for “impartial reportage (and) exposing Hindutva communal brigades”.

The I&B ministry keeps a track of content broadcast by all television channels, including news channels, primarily through its media unit Electronic Media Monitoring Centre (EMMC).

In 2016, the ministry had ordered a 24-hour ban on the Hindi news channel NDTV India for its coverage of the attack on the Pathankot base of the Indian Air Force. It was later put on hold by the government. The move was widely condemned by media watchers who said the channel was unfairly singled out.

(Inputs from PTI)

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