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Centre suspends news channel Lokshahi Marathi; second time in 5 months

Centre suspends news channel Lokshahi Marathi; second time in 5 months

New Delhi: The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting on Tuesday suspended the licence of the television news channel Lokshahi Marathi for 30 days, said a statement issued by the channel’s management.

In September, the channel broadcast a video of Bharatiya Janata Party leader Kirit Somaiya, in which he was allegedly seen in a “compromising position”.

It received a suspension notice for 72 hours from the I&B Ministry. The channel management had then approached the Delhi High Court against the notice, following which the court revoked it in 24 hours.

The channel’s licence had been suspended by the government for 30 days on the grounds that the operators of the channel were not the same as those in whose name the licence was issued. “It’s not a cancellation but a suspension, and they have 30 days to rectify the deficiency,” the source said, reports Indian Express.

In a YouTube broadcast on Tuesday, Lokshahi Marathi editor-in-chief Kamlesh Sutar said that the channel will again approach the court.

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In its notice, the ministry said that the permission to uplink and downlink the channel was granted to Zora Traders Limited on the condition that it would develop its own content and not source news from a third party, reported the Hindustan Times.

However, the channel said it has observed that Lokshahi Marathi was receiving content from the studio of a teleport operator named Broadcast Equipment Private Limited situated in Mumbai’s Andheri area.

“The studio’s address coincides with that of a non-permitted entity, Swaraj Marathi Broadcasting LLP, which claims ownership of the channel Lokshahi Marathi on various websites,” said the order.

According to clause 32 of the Uplinking and Downlinking Guidelines, a television channel can be transferred to another company only with the approval of the ministry.

The channel had received two show cause notices from the Ministry last year, asking it to furnish ledger accounts and employee details, the notice said.

In its statement, the channel said that it had replied to the show cause notice sent on November 17, reported The Indian Express.

“On December 14, 2023, we had sought additional time to submit the papers sought,” the statement said. “Despite this, the sudden suspension announced on January 9 has shocked us. We are hopeful that we will get justice from the court.”

The Mumbai Press Club said in a statement on Wednesday that the suspension orders against Lokshahi Marathi were “part of a vendetta aimed at silencing critical and free reporting”.

“...technical objections are nothing but a fig leaf for finding fault to shut down the channel as a counterattack for having shown a politician from a ruling party in a poor light,” the statement read. “In today’s age of high competition among news channels, a suspension order of 30 days can be the death knell of a TV channel.”

In the interest of free speech, the Mumbai Press Club demanded an immediate withdrawal of the suspension order against the channel

On January 31, 2022, Malayalam news channel MediaOne TV also went off the air after the Centre suspended its telecast citing “security reasons”.

However, over a year later in April, the Supreme Court quashed the Centre’s telecast ban on the channel.

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TAGS:Delhi High CourtPress FreedomI&B MinistryIndia NewsMarathi news channel
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