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Press freedom essential in democratic set up: Javadekar

Pune, March 7 (IANS) After the government lifted a 48-hour ban on two Malayalam news channels, Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar on Saturday said the government supports the freedom of the press.

Speaking to the reporters here, Javadekar said he would examine the matter and issue orders accordingly, if required. He told the media persons that the Prime Minister has expressed concern on the matter, and emphasized on responsible freedom for media.

Asianet News and Media One were penalized with a 48-hour ban on Friday for reportage that could “enhance communal disharmony” in the country. Javadekar said the two Kerala based channels were banned after the concerned authorities found the reason for the matter and immediately restored the transmission of the channels.

He insisted that the freedom of the press is essential in a democratic set up and it is also the commitment of the Modi government. The minister said transmission of Asianet News was restored on Friday night after its owner talked to him, followed by Media One on Saturday morning. Citing Emergency Javadekar said the freedom of the press was suppressed in those days.

The minister said views of the News Broadcasters Association (NBA) have been sought on the matter, after he spoke with its president Rajat Sharma. The minister said the matter will be carefully examined and steps will be taken on wrongdoing.

“But let me also tell you that everybody should accept that there has to be responsible freedom,” Javadekar said. The ministry order on Media One had said “Channel’s reporting on Delhi violence seems to be biased as it is deliberately focusing on the vandalism of CAA supporters….It also questions RSS and alleges Delhi Police inaction. Channel seems to be critical towards Delhi Police and RSS.”

The ministry had ordered prohibition of transmission or re-transmission of Media One and Asianet News for 48 hours on any platform throughout India with effect from 7.30 pm on Friday to 7.30 pm on Sunday.

According to the official order the channels covered the events on February 25 in a manner that “highlighted the attack on places of worship and siding towards a particular community”.




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