| 14 Jul 2024
AROI urges PM to intervene on Red FM and Sun Group issue, matter referred to Law Ministry

NEW DELHI: The Association of Radio Operators in India (AROI) has urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to intervene to ensure that Red FM, owned by the Sun TV Group, is allowed to operate, noting that "we object to media being singled out as an exception as even politicians holding highly sensitive government positions do continue till proven guilty even when there are serious charges against them."

In a letter, of which copies have also been sent to Home Minister Rajnath Singh, and Information and Broadcasting Minister Arun Jaitley, AROI Secretary General Uday Chawla has expressed surprise that “these stations face closure due to a pending investigation against the major shareholder."

Noting that ‘denial of security clearance without a court conviction would create a dangerous precedent; Chawla has said “no conviction has yet been made. Imagine if leaders in politics, businesses and other institutions are to lose their positions on the basis of unproven complaints.”

AROI sees no reason why Red FM should be treated as a national security threat. “Regarding complaints against specific individuals, law will definitely take its own course and justice done. Destruction of wealth, without any purpose, is not justice,” the letter says.

Meanwhile, was informed by Law Ministry sources that this letter has been forwarded to it for seeking its views.

At the outset, the letter notes with concern the various reports in Media and otherwise that the Home Ministry has refused security clearance to Red FM which could result in closure of over 45 stations being operated in the country. “This would result in loss of employment of a few thousand direct employees, complete erosion of wealth created by this brand as well as loss of infotainment source for citizens in over 45 cities and towns in India.”

AROI noted that radio is the only free to air media in India wherein no charges are to be paid directly or indirectly by listeners. It is also easily accessible at no or low cost through mobiles or cheap radio sets. In fact it is the poor citizens’ main source of information and entertainment. Radio has also played a major role in times of national calamities.

The Association notes that even Red FM had received Chief Minister’s Awards from Odissa and Andhra Pradesh for the extensive coverage at the time of cyclone in these states which helped saved thousands of lives. Even during the Nepal earthquake, Red FM helped in raising money for victims in association with Nepalese radio stations, leading to confidence building in civil society of our neighboring country.

“Over more than a decade of existence of Red FM, AROI has not received or is aware of, any action by Red FM which resulted in any threat to national security.”