Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI: Red FM on Thursday secured a reprieve from the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) which stayed the Information and Broadcasting (I&B) Ministry’s decision to ban the radio station for a week for violating the Programme Code.

A bench of the appellate authority said the Ministry had not followed its own rule while issuing show-cause notice to Red FM.

The station, while approaching TDSAT, had argued that it had not been given enough time to respond to the notice that had asked why action should not be taken against it for violating the Programme Code.

In particular, Red FM cited Clause 25.3.6 of the Grant of Permission Agreement (GOPA) as per which the frequency was allotted to it to go on air. This clause states that a licence-holder will be given a maximum of 15 days to respond to a show-cause notice before punitive action is taken. The Ministry’s counter is that 15 days is the outer limit.

While staying the ban, TDSAT, however, said the Ministry could initiate fresh action against Red FM if it so desired as per the legal terms specified in GOPA.

The Ministry has been asked to file its response to the Red FM petition within 10 days and the case has been posted for hearing on November 13. On Tuesday, the Ministry banned Red FM for seven days for airing a programme carrying derogatory remarks about the Gorkha community. However, the decision was kept in abeyance till the appellate authority took a final view on the matter.

The show-cause notice was issued after the West Bengal government sought the Ministry’s intervention following clashes over the derogatory remark by radio jockey ‘Nitin’ in reference to Prashant Tamang — the winner of ‘Indian Idol,’ a television channel-sponsored music talent show.