Sun TV shares crashed over 28 per cent on Monday amid reports that 33 television channels of the Kalanithi Maran-promoted Sun TV Network may be taken off air.
The Home Ministry on Sunday struck down an Information and Broadcasting Ministry's proposal for giving security clearance to 33 television channels of Kalanithi Maran-promoted Sun TV Network, a move that could lead to cancellation of their broadcasting licence.
The I&B Ministry has been informed about the decision of the Home Ministry, which was believed to have been influenced by pending criminal cases against Maran and his brother and former Union Minister Dayanidhi Maran, official sources said.
The Maran brothers are facing a CBI probe over alleged allotment of 300 high-speed BSNL telephone lines to the residence of former Communications and Information Technology Minister Dayanidhi Maran in Chennai which were extended to his brother's channel.
There are two other pending criminal probes against Sun TV Network and its owner Kalanithi Maran - CBI's Aircel-Maxis case and an Enforcement Directorate case of money laundering.
The television channels are free to seek a legal recourse. The decision could also be altered by Prime Minister Narendra Modi if he intervenes and overrules the Home Ministry's decision.
The Sun TV Network is one of India's largest media groups whose TV channels reach more than 95 million households in India. The Network had applied to the Information and Broadcasting Ministry for renewing its broadcasting licence for 10 years.
The process required security clearance from the Home Ministry. Earlier, the Home Ministry had denied security clearance to 40 FM radio stations run by the Sun Network, prompting Information and Broadcasting Minister Arun Jaitley to write to Home Minister Rajnath Singh in April, seeking a review of the decision. However, there has been no change in Home Ministry's decision.
The Sun Network had already moved the Madras High Court seeking interim relief in the Sun FM matter and the court has granted it a stay till the petition is disposed of. It is expected to move the court again in the Sun TV Network issue.