Yesterday, on the 6th of March 2020, two Kerala based Malayalam News channels, namely Asianet News and MediaOne were awarded 48-hour token ban by the Information and Broadcasting Ministry for their shoddy ‘coverage of the Delhi riot’. Both these channels displayed a black screen since 7.30 pm on March 6 (Friday), when they were taken off-air.
The channels were supposed to resume broadcast only at 7.30 pm on March 8 (Sunday) after completion of the 48-hour ban. The order had alleged that the two Malayalam News channels have indulged in biased coverage of the Delhi riots, being critical of the RSS and Delhi police and siding with a particular community, showing those who supported Citizenship Amendment Act in poor light.
However, just after a few hours of the ban being imposed, the Information and Broadcasting Ministry and rescinded the 48-hour ban that was awarded to Asianet News and MediaOne. Reportedly, the ban against Asianet News was lifted at 1:30 AM and the ban on MediaOne was lifted at 9:30 AM.
- Rule 6(1 c)- says that no programme should be carried which contains an attack on religions or communities or visuals or words contemptuous of religious groups or which promote communal attitudes.
- Rule 6(1 e)- says that no programme should be carried which is likely to encourage or incite violence or contains anything against maintenance of law and order or which promote anti-national attitudes.
The I&B ministry had imposed a similar token 24-hour ban on NDTV in 2016 their coverage of Pathankot terrorist attack. The penalty of taking the channel off-air for one full day came after the IMC noted with “grave concern” that the channel had “revealed sensitive details like the location of ammunition depot and the place where terrorists were held up, location of the school and residential areas”.