Indian authorities recently suspended the MediaOne TV broadcaster, which was taken offline until a court postponed the suspension order. (YouTube/MediaOne Live)

Indian government suspends MediaOne TV for unspecified ‘security reasons’

New Delhi, January 31, 2022 – Indian authorities should allow the Malayalam-language news channel MediaOne TV to operate freely, and should not suspend broadcasters over their work, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Monday.

At about 12:30 p.m. on Monday, MediaOne TV ceased broadcasting after it received a suspension notice via email, according to the outlet’s editor, Pramod Raman, who spoke to CPJ in a phone interview.

The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting suspended the broadcaster for unspecified “security reasons” and because it allegedly had not been granted a security clearance by the Home Ministry during its license renewal, according to multiple news reports, a statement by the outlet, and Raman.

Following the suspension, the Kerala High Court temporarily postponed the government’s order until a hearing on Wednesday, according to those sources. The channel has since resumed live broadcasting.

“Indian authorities should not use vague security concerns to suspend broadcasters like MediaOne TV,” said Steven Butler, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator, in Washington, D.C.  “The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting must drop its bid to ban MediaOne TV and stop efforts to create such a harmful precedent.”

MediaOne TV is owned by Madhyamam Broadcasting Limited, many of whose investors are members of the Kerala state chapter of the Islamic organization Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, according to the Indian Express. The channel has critically reported on the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the parent organization of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, as well as the government’s response to protests surrounding the Citizenship Amendment Act and farming legislation.

On January 5, the outlet received a notice from the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting asking why its security clearance should not be revoked, Raman said. He told CPJ that the notice did not cite any specific actions by the broadcaster that could result in the denial of its clearance.

Previously, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting banned MediaOne TV for 48 hours over its coverage of riots in Delhi in March 2020, as CPJ documented at the time.

CPJ emailed the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and Home Ministry for comment, but did not immediately receive any replies.