Govt backs press freedom: Prakash Javadekar on lifting ban on 2 Malayalam channels

Union minister Prakash Javadekar said on Saturday the government always supports press freedom after his information and broadcasting ministry lifted the 48-hour ban on two Malayalam news channels over their coverage of the recent violence in north-east Delhi.

Asianet News TV and Media One were issued a show-cause notice and the government said it had found them in violation of the programme code under the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995.

Under Rule 6(1)(c) of the act, no broadcast should contain an attack on religions or communities, or visuals or words contemptuous of religious groups.

The two channels were ordered not to transmit or re-transmit for 48 hours from 7.30pm on March 6.

“We immediately found out what actually happened and therefore immediately we restored the channels. Our basic thought process is that press freedom is absolutely essential for a democratic setup,” Prakash Javadekar said, according to news agency ANI.

Javadekar, while speaking to reporters in Maharashtra’s Pune, said he would look into the matter and issue orders if necessary. He also said Prime Minister Narendra Modi had expressed concern over the issue.

“And that is the commitment of the Modi government as we fought Emergency in which press freedom was muzzled. So even, the PM expressed concern on this issue. I will go into details and take essential steps if any wrongdoing…” he said.

Asianet News TV, in its response to the government’s notice, had said its reports were factual and that it never intended to attack any religion or a community.

The government’s order on Media One also raised questions on the channel’s content and said that the ministry previously issued advisories that norms should be followed.

Media One said it reported what its correspondents witnessed on the ground when it responded to the ministry’s notice earlier.