The unexplained ban imposed by the Union Information and Broadcasting Ministry on Malayalam news channel Media One drew flak from various quarters.
The Communist Party of India (Marxist) State secretariat issued a statement condemning the ban, calling it as part of the attempts by the Centre to shackle the media. Protesting against the move, the party said the Centre was trying to make each media outlet fall in line.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said freedom of expression and speech formed part of the fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution. There should be diverse opinions in the public sphere in the absence of which democracy would be in peril. Society, he said, should be vigilant against such a danger. There did not seem to have been any explanation on why the functioning of the news channel was blocked. If there were serious issues, they should be examined separately and resolved through Constitutional means.
“It’s everyone’s responsibility to ensure that Article 19 of the Constitution isn’t breached,” he said in a statement.
Leader of the Opposition V.D. Satheesan termed it “undemocratic”. He said the Centre was duty-bound to explain why it refused to permit broadcast by the channel. This demonstrated the intolerance nursed by the Sangh Parivar towards news unpalatable to them.
Speaker M.B. Rajesh also said the Centre’s move should be viewed as an infringement of freedom of expression. Moves such as this undermined democracy, he said.
The Kerala Union of Working Journalists protested against the revocation of license, asking what security situation prevailed in the country which warranted that the media be shackled. The body petitioned the Prime Minister and I&B Minister, urging them to intervene and remove the ban.
Congress leader Ramesh Chennithala called it an onslaught on media freedom and shameful to democracy. Among those who condemned it were Education Minister V. Sivankutty and Communist Party of India State secretary Kanam Rajendran.