The Information and Broadcasting (I&B) Ministry has decided to stick to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) line on the issue of renewal of broadcast licence of Sun TV’s 33 channels.
Just over a month back, the MHA had denied security clearance to the 33 channels and asked the I&B Ministry not to renew their broadcast licence.
Today, the ministry apprised I&B Minister Arun Jaitley that it needs to “stick to the MHA line” on the matter, just as it did in the case of FM radio auction. “The final call will be taken by the I&B minister,” sources said. Two days ago, the I&B Ministry had denied five Sun Network companies permission to participate in Phase III of the FM radio e-auction for failing to obtain security clearance from the MHA.
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Sources said that legal opinion secured from the Law Ministry had indicated that the I&B Ministry should issue showcause notices to the 33 Sun TV channels. “Sun Network companies running both TV and radio channels have been denied security clearance by MHA. If the government has disallowed these companies from bidding in the radio auction, how can the licences of the 33 TV channels be renewed?” an official explained.
The Sun Group today said it would move the court against the government’s decision to deny it a chance to participate in the FM radio auction. A Sun Group official said they would plead before the court to either allow them to participate in the auction or stay the entire auction process till the matter is decided.
“For months we have been seeking a hearing from the government on the matter. Only last night we received a communication from I&B Ministry informing that our application for the FM radio auction has been rejected because of denial of security clearance by the MHA. It seems we have been singled out for stepmotherly treatment,” Sun Group’s Chief Financial Officer S L Narayanan said.