Govt’s actions against Sun TV channels and radio stations doesn’t seem merited
The manner in which the government has gone after the Marans-owned Sun TV group seems rather questionable. After the union home ministry denied security clearances to Sun TV on the grounds that promoter Kalanithi and his brother, former Union minister, Dayanidhi, endangered the economic security of the nation, the information and broadcasting (I&B) ministry has rejected the group’s application for the phase-III FM auctions—because the group did not have the requisite security clearance.
The Marans are being investigated by the CBI for alleged bribery in the Aircel-Maxis deal, and by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) for money laundering. But pending the findings, there seems no just reason the Sun TV group and its other investors must be made to suffer. The group has already seen a market cap erosion of nearly 37% in the months since the denial of clearances, and with it forced out of the phase-III FM auctions, this slide is only likely to become steeper. The government’s moves smack particularly of a witch-hunt given there are other media houses, as reported by The Indian Express, that are being investigated by the CBI/ED, but haven’t been denied security clearances. Indeed, it is only after the I&B ministry flagged the possibility of a court stricture over the denial of security clearances to Sun TV embarrassing the government that the home ministry changed licensing policy for private television operators, wherein promoters or bidders have to give a self-declaration certifying that no cases including criminal, money laundering, links with terror groups and major financial fraud, are pending against them.