Jaitley vs Rajnath: I&B and Home ministries battle over threatened Sun TV closure
Sources say that the Information and Broadcasting Ministry (I&B) wrote a note in favour of Maran to give a clearance but the MHA refused it,
After the Home Ministry (MHA) refused to grant licences to Kalanithi Maran-promoted Sun TV Network’s group companies over probes into the company's involvement in multiple scams, the Information and Broadcasting ministry may be taking a stronger stand on the issue.
The factor that the I&B ministry expects to cite in its favour is the fact that last September, the Madras High Court pulled up the I&B Ministry for cancelling the Multi System Operator licence to Kal Cables, a subsidiary of the Sun TV Network, according to an Indian Express report.
Even then, the denial of security clearance by the MHA was based on the fact that the brothers were facing criminal cases.
The Information and Broadcasting Ministry (I&B) had reportedly earlier written a note seeking clearance for the Sun Group's outlets but the MHA refused it, according to CNN IBN.
The home ministry had received a request from the I&B ministry on 19 May seeking security clearance for the renewal of the broadcasting licence of the Sun TV network, officials in the home ministry told ET.
The denial of the clearance was communicated by the home ministry in a letter on 4 June to a joint secretary in the I&B ministry which was received by the latter the following day, officials said.
“We are preparing a letter to ask them (the MHA) again what reasons to cite while issuing an order to cancel their TV licence,” an I&B source said to the Indian Express.
The report quotes I&B officials as saying that they were of the view that “economic security” cannot be equated to “national security”, and that the MHA may have either “over-reacted” or failed to “examine the matter in-depth”.
The matter is matter of concern since the refusal to grant a licence could result in the closure of 33 channels of the group, FM channels and print outlets.
Shares of Kalanithi Maran-promoted Sun TV Network on Monday tanked nearly 28 percent in intra-day trade following reports that the union home ministry has denied security clearance to the company's 33 channels. The company operates 45 radio channels under the brand name Suryan FM in Tamil Nadu and Red FM in rest of the country.
The CBI is investigating the Aircel-Maxis case when former union minister for telecom Dayanidhi Maran was at the helm, followed by an Enforcement Directorate case of money laundering as well as a pending CBI case of an illegal telephone exchange allegedly run from Sun TV's office.
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