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IBF prez Uday Shankar bats for Sun TV in letter to MHA

MUMBAI: The Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF) has come out in support of beleaguered Sun TV Network on the security clearance issue.

Star India CEO and IBF president Uday Shankar has written a letter to Home Minister Rajnath Singh urging the latter to evolve a security clearance process for TV channels that is well targeted, transparent, least interventionist, more facilitative and non–restrictive, Business Standard reported.

Shankar said that the denial of security clearance to Sun TV Network is not based on principles of natural justice or in keeping with the constitutional mandate of freedom of speech and expression.

Despite pending cases, Sun TV Network also has a right to operate its business and the denial of renewal of licence based on security clearance is unwarranted and unjustifiable, he said.

Shankar lamented that the entire process of security clearance is a result of the government’s fear of the unknown.

He pointed out that the basic idea of security clearance for TV channels is to ensure that broadcasting companies who apply for such licences are not involved in any anti-national or subversive activity, which is certainly not the case with the Sun Group.

Describing the requirement of security clearance as unduly cumbersome, he stated that it is one of the most stringent entry barriers causing immense unease among the broadcasters.

Earlier, the MHA had denied security clearance to Sun TV Network channels due to pending criminal investigations against promoters. The MIB urged the MHA to review its decision; however, the latter stuck to its decision.

Sun TV chief Kalanithi Maran wrote letters to Singh and Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking their intervention in the matter, but much to his disappointment, neither responded positively. In fact, the Prime Minister’s Office echoed MHA’s concerns.

Even Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi’s views that security clearance cannot be denied to Sun TV Network on the basis of pending criminal investigations failed to budge the MHA from its stance.

The MIB had recently asked the MHA to provide clinching evidence that the operations of Sun TV channels would harm national security.