Shares in Sun TV crashed nearly 28% to a 52-week low on Monday, a day after reports that the home ministry has struck down a proposal from the information and broadcasting ministry to give security clearance to 33 television channels of the Kalanithi Maran-promoted firm.
The MHA's move raised concerns that Sun TV may have to take its 33 channels off air, as broadcasters need security clearance every 10 years in order to continue their operations.
Quoting unnamed sources, PTI reported that the home ministry declined clearance because of pending criminal cases against owner Kalanithi Maran and his brother and former Union minister Dayanidhi Maran.
The brothers are facing a CBI probe over allegations that 300 high-speed BSNL telephone lines allotted to the Chennai residence of Dayanidhi Maran when he was communications minister, were extended to the Sun network.
There are two other pending criminal probes against Sun TV Network and its owner Kalanithi Maran. These are CBI's Aircel-Maxis case and an Enforcement Directorate case of money laundering.
The Sun TV Network is one of the largest media groups in the country with TV channels reaching more than 95 million households in southern states.
The broadcaster major has the option of approaching the courts if the decision is not reviewed by home minister Rajnath Singh or overruled by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Sun TV officials denied receiving any communication from the government. "We wish to state that no communication has been received by the company from any ministry and all our channels continue to be on air," a statement issued by the network said.
NDTV quoted Sun TV group CFO SL Narayanan as saying, "Most of our channels are running up to 2021 and some till 2023, so nothing is pending appeal... I am reasonably sure, we will not be put to this kind of difficulty."
In April, the network had obtained a stay from the Madras high court after the MHA declined security clearance to its 40 FM radio stations.