Worldview Media Network Limited, a UK-based firm that holds the licence for Republic Bharat, was fined £20,000 by the United Kingdom’s broadcast and communications regulator, Office of Communications (Ofcom), for failing to comply with the broadcasting rules.
Republic Bharat broadcasts news and current affairs in Hindi.
Apart from the fine, Worldview Media has also been directed not to repeat the programme and to broadcast Ofcom’s findings on a date and in a form that it will determine, The Print reported.
Worldview Media Network Limited was fined for airing a debate featured in Poochta Hai Bharat by Republic TV’s editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami. The topic of the debate was India’s attempt to send the Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft to the Moon on July 22, 2019 and was aired in the UK on September 6, 2019.
According to Ofcom, the debate between Goswami and the panellists focused on the relations between India and Pakistan and included a discussion of India’s space exploration record and other technological advancements compared to those of Pakistan. The Kashmir dispute and Pakistan’s alleged involvement in terrorist activities were also discussed.
Worldview Media Network, however, justified the programme stating that the debate was based on “a legitimate story covering Pakistan’s involvement in terror activities backed by recent events and statements from leading Pakistani public figures at a time when India was working to become a space power” and that it “did not promote terrorism or hatred and it certainly did not promote or justify hatred in any way”.
These justifications were overruled by the regulator.
Ofcom said that some statements made during the debate seemed to imply that all Pakistanis are terrorists, like “their scientists, doctors, their leaders, politicians all are terrorists. Even their sports people”, “every child is a terrorist over there. Every child is a terrorist. You are dealing with a terrorist entity”.
One panellist is also said to have described Pakistani scientists as “thieves” while another described them as “beggars”, according to the regulator.
“In the context of these criticisms, the presenter (Goswami), addressing Pakistan and/or Pakistani people, said: ‘We make scientists, you make terrorists’,” Ofcom added, according to The Print.
The communications regulator ruled that several statements made by Arnab Goswami and some of his panellists “amounted to hate speech against, and derogatory and abusive treatment of, Pakistani people”.
In its February 24 order, Ofcom had stated that “the content was also potentially offensive and was not sufficiently justified by the context” and breached Rules 3.2, 3.3 and 2.3 of the Broadcasting Code. “Due to the serious nature of these breaches we are considering imposing a statutory sanction,” the order read.