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IBF supports Sun TV Network; will it be enough?

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IBF supports Sun TV Network; will it be enough?

Sun TV Network has been unable to get out of this current storm which has no signs of letting down and threatens to drag the company under. Recently five group companies under Sun TV Network were denied applications for phase III FM auctions by the Information and Broadcast Ministry (MIB) after the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) denied it security clearance. This will rule out Sun’s Red FM and Suryan FM for the upcoming phase III FM auctions.

Sun TV Network’s security clearance for the 33 television channels too remains in the balance with the MIB expected to take a call soon. Earlier, the MIB was expected to issue a show cause notice to Sun TV Network allowing it to present the network’s side of the argument in court. However, with MIB’s decision to reject its application on the radio front, the license for the 33 television channels hangs in the balance. However, the Indian Broadcasting Federation (IBF) has lent its support and backing to Sun TV Network. The IBF President and CEO of Star India, Uday Shankar in a letter to Home Minister Rajnath Singh sought his intervention in the matter related to the security clearance. The letter stated that the denial of necessary clearances to Sun Network is not based on principles of natural justice or in keeping with the constitutional mandate of freedom of speech and expression among others. It further went on to say that IBF would like to state that Sun Network, despite pending cases, also has a right to operate its business and the denial of renewal of licenses on the basis of security clearance is unwarranted and unjustifiable. It also requested the ministry to evolve a process that is well targeted, transparent, least interventionist, more facilitative and non restrictive, in connection with the security clearance to broadcasters.

It has to be noted that the radio industry too had supported the Sun TV Network for the granting of security clearance to its radio stations. However, as things stand, the MIB has refused the application on the basis of the MHA denying it security clearance. So whether the letter of support by the IBF for Sun TV Network holds any sway over the MHA is yet to be seen as the ministry remains adamant on not changing its stance. If it continues, the MIB will deny granting the renewal of license to the 33 channels in the same way that it rejected the application to for phase III FM auctions.

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