Private TV channels against which the government takes action for allegedly propagating content detrimental to national security are given enough opportunities to clarify their stand, the government told the Lok Sabha on March 15, 2020, according to the PTI report.
Union Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting L Murugan said all fresh and renewal applications of private TV channels are vetted by the Ministry of Home Affairs.
He said that if any channel's activity is found to be posing threat to national security, the MHA denies the security clearance which leads to automatic cancellation of the licence provided by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.
"If it is a matter of national security, there can't be any compromise," he said during the Question Hour.
The minister said that due process is followed before any action is taken against any TV channel.
"In some cases, the channel concerned does not come with the renewal application, while in other cases we issue show cause notice and if the reply of that show cause notice is found to be not satisfactory, then only we take action," he said.
Murugan also referred to a Supreme Court order which had backed the government on the matter of national security.
When MP Gaurav Gogoi said the denial of security clearance is amounted to the curb of freedom of speech, the minister said such things can't be compared to 1975 (during emergency) when people had no freedom of speech and personal liberties.
Replying to another supplementary on channels that allegedly promote hate and other contents detrimental to the peace and harmony of society, Murugan said action has been taken in 159 such cases for violating relevant rules and codes.
The minister said all private satellite TV channels, granted permission by the ministry under the Uplinking and Downlinking Guidelines, 2011, are required to adhere to the terms and conditions of such permission including adherence to the Programme Code and Advertisement Code and other provisions laid down under the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995.
"Grant of permission to a satellite TV channel under the Uplinking and Downlinking Guidelines is subject to security clearance by the Ministry of Home Affairs as per the procedure laid down by it," he said.
Murugan said the ministry grants permission for operating a satellite TV channel under the Uplinking and Downlinking Guidelines, 2011.
The ministry takes action against television channels for violation of the terms and conditions of the permission and for violation of the Programme Code.
He said since 2019, the ministry has taken action of prohibiting transmission for varying time periods in respect of 15 TV channels for various violations under the Uplinking/Downlinking Guidelines and of the Programme Code.
"The government follows the due process of law and the laid down procedure before taking a decision to suspend/prohibit a channel. Grievances of channels relating to Uplinking/Downlinking Guidelines are addressed by the ministry," he said.