The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has denied security clearance to 33 channels of Kalanithi Maran promoted Sun TV network, on the grounds that it has “adverse impact on economic security” of the country.
The move comes days after MHA declined security clearance to 45 radio channels under the brand name Suryan FM in Tamil Nadu and Red FM in the rest of the country, owned by Marans. Kalanithi is the brother of Dayanidhi Maran and son of former Union minister, late Murasoli Maran.
When contacted, senior officials of the Information & Broadcasting (I&B) Ministry confirmed that the MHA had sent them a communication stating that security clearance to the Sun TV network had been declined. A senior MHA official said there were three grounds on which clearance was denied to Sun TV, the same as cited while declining security clearance to the radio channels.
“Charges of systemic corruption, money laundering, allegations of operating an illegal telephone exchange and involvement of the company’s promoters in Aircel-Maxis deal are the reasons that we declined security clearance to the Sun TV network. Since the same grounds were cited while denying clearance to FM channels owned by the group, it applied to the network as well,” said the official.
Carrying out the MHA decision would entail cancelling the channels’ broadcast licence and this would effectively mean shutting them down, I&B Ministry officials said. “If we do that, as a natural corollary, the affected party will move court. So we need to figure all the implications before taking a final call,” a top source said.
“We’ll be putting up the details of the matter as well as the implications of the MHA decision before the I&B Minister shortly. He’ll have to take it up with the Home Minister then,” an official said.
Earlier, I&B Minister Arun Jaitley had written to Home Minister Rajnath Singh, requesting him to clarify why his ministry had rejected security clearance to Sun TV network’s group companies that operate 45 radio channels. “No reply came from the MHA on that,” an I&B Ministry official said.