The long drawn battle of Sun TV Network still continues as the security license seems far from being attained from the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA). While the Ministry of Information and Broadcast (MIB) stance initially seemed likely towards favoring the network and hence the possibility of it getting the license for 33 TV channels and 45 FM radio stations, the MIB is now showing signs of going with the MHA’s decision. According to some media reports, MIB sources say that they are likely to stick to the MHA line of thought and final call will be taken by I&B Minister Arun Jaitley.
This comes on the heels of the MIB not allowing Sun TV’s FM brands Red FM and Suryan FM to participate in the Phase III auctions. The auctions were one of the most anticipated events in the radio broadcasting space and the Sun TV FM brands were expected to be big players. Red FM has now approached the Delhi High Court against this decision.
With MIB moving to support the MHA’s stance on the radio auctions, media experts say it is likely that MIB might go the same way for the TV licenses.
Sun TV Network has however not taken this sitting down and has raised important questions against the government’s stance against many of the other players in the broadcast sector with pending cases against them. It accused the union government of favoritism for other players which includes the Anil Ambani Group receiving clearance for licenses despite facing similar charges in the 2G scam in a letter by promoter Kalanithi Maran to Home Minister Rajnath Singh yesterday. It mentions the large business conglomerates which have pending cases such as 2G spectrum, corporate espionage at ministry of petroleum, corruption involving disproportionate assets and extortions. Media reports also said that another letter by K Shanmugam to Singh elaborated on the reference of Reliance Broadcast Media and provided details of cases where ADAG officials have been booked.
It can be recalled that the MHA time and again has stuck to its stance to deny security clearance to the Sun TV Network’s 33 TV channels. This is in spite of several pleas to review the decision from the MIB and even industry bodies like the IBF and the radio industry players. Senior home ministry officials have said that the stand is clear on Sun TV case and there is no provision under the law for issuing security clearance to the channel and it also doesn’t matter if different opinions were being held. Taking a lesson from the Sun TV issue the government has also decided to change some norms for granting license to television operators. In order to get license from the government the channel needs to give a self declaration saying that there are no cases such as criminal, money laundering, links with terror groups, and major financial fraud cases pending against them.