The United Kingdom’s (U.K.,) media watchdog fined Arnab Goswami’s Republic Bharat 20,000 pounds for ‘Hate Speech’ against Pakistanis.
According to the Office of Communication (Ofcom,) the programme aired on the Republic Bharat, hindi channel of Republic TV.
Ofcom is a government approved regulatory and competition authority for the broadcasting, telecommunications and postal industries of the U.K.
Hosted by Arnab Goswami, the programme named Poochta Hai Bharat, an evening primetime show was telecasted on the 6th of September 2019. The show allegedly spread hate speech against Pakistanis through derogatory comments and speeches.
The British TV regulatory authority imposed a hefty amount of £20,000 (Rs. 19,81,792) as a fine.
According to Ofcom, the episode failed the regulatory guidelines and was filled with derogatory and abusive treatment of Pakistani people. The content was also potentially offensive and was not sufficiently justified by the context.
The Ofcom officials said, “By the time the episode aired, Ofcom had already notified Republic that it had been receiving a number of complaints on content broadcast by it in relation to “highly pejorative references to members of the Pakistani community (e.g. continually referring to them as “filthy”)”.
Worldview Media Network Limited, the licensee which airs Republic Bharat in the UK, will also need to broadcast a statement of Ofcom’s findings and is barred from repeating the programme in the U.K.
Highlighting the topic of discussion, the programme’s episode was a discussion on India’s Chandrayaan mission but, switched to how India was advanced in space science and its neighbour Pakistan was not.
While Arnab Goswami was the host, Major Gaurav Arya, Maj General K.K. Sinha, Prem Shukla of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Omar Inam and Omar Altaf from Pakistan were participants in the show.
A note from Ofcom read, “The host and the Indian guests dominated the discussion, with the Pakistani guests attempting to respond but largely being shouted down by the presenter and Indian guests.” It further read, “Statements were made which implied not just that there are threats to Indian interests and citizens from particular people and groups inside Pakistan, but that all Pakistanis represent a terrorist threat to Indians and others.”
The Ofcom’s note further stated, “Conveyed the view that all Pakistani people are terrorists, including that “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”.
On the show a guest also described Pakistani scientists as “thieves”, while another described Pakistani people as “beggars”.”
The regulatory body, Ofcom said the show violated three rules of its Broadcasting Code.
“Material which contains hate speech must not be included in television… programmes… except where it is justified by the context.”
“Material which contains abusive or derogatory treatment of individuals, groups, religions or communities, must not be included in television… services… except where it is justified by the context.”
“In applying generally accepted standards broadcasters must ensure that material which may cause offence is justified by the context… Such material may include […] offensive language, […] discriminatory treatment or language (for example on the grounds of […] religion or belief […]). Appropriate information should also be broadcast where it would assist in avoiding or minimising offence.”
According to the Ofcom, “In breach of 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.”
Meanwhile, responding to the allegations of Ofcom, the Worldview Media Network (WMN) had justified the programme on the grounds that it 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.”
However, Ofcom overruled the justifications and imposed the hefty fine amount of £20, 000.
This is not the first time Arnab Goswami’s Republic TV made headlines.
Recently, Mr. Goswami’s channel was criticised in relation to a TRP scam case.