December 23, 2020
ISLAMABAD—British media regulator Ofcom has fined Indian Republic TV £20,000 for hate speech against Pakistani people, and derogatory and abusive treatment of Pakistani people.
Republic Bharat is a satellite television channel broadcasting rolling news and current affairs to the Hindi speaking community in the UK, predominantly in the Hindi language. The license for this station is held by Worldview Media Network Limited.
The program Poochta Hai Bharat, a daily current affairs show in Hindi presented by the journalist Arnab Goswami aired on 6 September 2019 on Republic Bharat.
“The debate featured in this episode focused on India’s attempt to send the Chandrayaan 22 spacecraft to the Moon on 22 July 2019. The debate between Mr Goswami and guest contributors focused on Indo-Pakistani relations. This included discussion of India’s record of space exploration and other technological advancements in comparison to Pakistan’s, the on-going dispute between Pakistan and India over Kashmir, and Pakistan’s alleged involvement in terrorist activities against Indian targets,” Ofcom said.
In Ofcom’s decision published on 24 February 2020 in Issue 397 of the Ofcom Broadcast and On Demand Bulletin3, “Ofcom’s Executive found that this programme contained uncontextualised hate speech and that this content was potentially highly offensive, breaching Rules 2.3, 3.2 and 3.3 of the Code.”
The Worldview Media Network has been directed to broadcast a statement of Ofcom’s findings on “a date and in a form to be determined by Ofcom” and also not to repeat the program.
Ofcom’s Breach Decision found that an episode of the program Poochta Hai Bharat contained comments made by the host and some of his guests that amounted to hate speech against Pakistani people and derogatory and abusive treatment of Pakistani people. The content was also potentially offensive and not sufficiently justified by the context.
It added that in the program, the presenter and some of his guests conveyed the view that all Pakistani people are terrorists, including: “their scientists, doctors, their leaders, politicians all are terrorists. Even their sportspeople,” “every child is a terrorist over there. Every child is a terrorist. You are dealing with a terrorist entity.” One guest also described Pakistani scientists as “thieves,” while another described Pakistani people as “beggars.” In the context of these criticisms, the presenter, addressing Pakistan and/or Pakistani people, said: “We make scientists, you make terrorists.”
It quoted one of the guests General Sinha as saying: “Oh you useless people. Beggars. Oh beggars, oh beggars. We will douse you with 1.25kg, .75kg-, with two inches. PoK, PoK, we are coming to the PoK. We are coming to the Gilgit, Baltistan, in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa…We are going to come, be ready. People in your country are shivering with fear that the Indian army may come. We will barge inside your home in Baluchistan, in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, in Karachi, in your area, in Multan, in Rawalpindi and kill you. From Lahore, from Karachi to Gilgit-Balistan when we will have control”.
The Worldview Media Network tried to defend the program by saying that these figures of speech were not intended to be taken literally, which Asian viewers would have understood clearly.
However, Ofcom maintained: “We considered however that these statements, made by a retired Major General from the Indian Army, which clearly threatened that the Indian military would attack Pakistani civilians in their homes, were an expression of hatred and desire to kill by a figure of authority. In our view, the broadcast of these statements also promoted hatred and intolerance towards Pakistani people.”
Photo credit: timesofindia.com
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