UK media regulator fines Republic TV for hate speech

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The decision comes after an episode of Poochta Hai Bharat, a daily current affairs discussion programme in Hindi aired on 6 September 2019, was found to have failed to comply with their broadcasting rules…reports Asian Lite News

UK’s communications regulator Ofcom has fined a £20,000 penalty on Worldview Media Network Limited, which operates Republic Bharat in the UK.

The decision comes after an episode of Poochta Hai Bharat, a daily current affairs discussion programme in Hindi aired on 6 September 2019, was found to have failed to comply with their broadcasting rules, BizAsia reported.

Republic Bharat is a television channel in the UK that broadcasts rolling news and current affairs to the Hindi speaking community.

Ofcom’s official statement says that the said episode of the programme presented by the journalist Arnab Goswami was focused on Indo-Pakistani relations. India’s technological advancements including space research were discussed 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 were discussed.

Ofcom’s Executive found that this programme contained uncontextualized hate speech and that this content was potentially highly offensive, breaching broadcasting rules, BizAsia reported.

Worldview Media argued that the programme ‘did not promote terrorism or hatred and it certainly did not promote or justify hatred in any way.’ The broadcaster said that the purpose of the debate was ‘to showcase how India has moved forward, while Pakistan in the same period has failed to develop at the same pace and how terror groups had been allowed to operate in Pakistan.’

It added that this was an “emotionally charged” discussion and that the content was based on evidence that “Pakistan was trying to infiltrate terrorists, threaten Indian sovereignty and destabilize India,” BizAsia reported.

Ofcom considered that there were insufficient contextual factors to justify the hate speech included in this programme. Therefore, it broke Rule 3.2 of the broadcasting code, which warranted the imposition of statutory sanctions.

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