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'Republic Bharat' Show Promoted Hate Speech And Intolerance, Finds UK Broadcast Regulator

LIVELAW NEWS NETWORK
22 Dec 2020 5:33 PM GMT
Republic Bharat Show Promoted Hate Speech And Intolerance, Finds UK Broadcast Regulator
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The United Kingdom's communications regulator Office of Communications(OfCom) on Tuesday found that a program of Arnab Goswami's 'Republic Bharat' breached broadcasting conditions by promoting "hatred and intolerance" against a group of individuals.The order held that the discussion "Poochta Hai Bharat" telecast by the channel on September 6, 2019 violated the conditions in the OfCom...

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The United Kingdom's communications regulator Office of Communications(OfCom) on Tuesday found that a program of Arnab Goswami's 'Republic Bharat' breached broadcasting conditions by promoting "hatred and intolerance" against a group of individuals.

The order held that the discussion "Poochta Hai Bharat" telecast by the channel on September 6, 2019 violated the conditions in the OfCom Broadcasting Code in respect of "offensive language", "hate speech" and " abusive or derogatory treatment of individuals, groups, religions or communities" with its comments against people of Pakistan.

The OfCom imposed a fine of 20,000 pounds on Worldwide Media Network Ltd, which holds the license to broadcast 'Republic Bharat' in the United Kingdom.

The issue related to the discussion aired on September 6, 2019, in which the anchor Arnab Goswami and the guests made comments about Pakistan while discussing India's lunar exploration program 'Chandrayaan 2'.

"We considered that the overall tone of the discussion was provocative, comparing Pakistanis to donkeys and monkeys. We also noted that Pakistani contributors were repeatedly interrupted and afforded little time to make points which may potentially have provided challenge or context", the order noted.

The order passed by the regulator observed that the the programme, the presenter and some of his guests 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". 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".

Ofcom also mentioned comments made by one of the guests identified as "General Sinha", who referred to people of Pakistan as "beggars" and threatened military attack on the country.It also took note of the use of the term "Paki", which it said was a racist word and unacceptable to the audience of UK.

Taking exception to such comments, the UK Regulator said that they "amounted to hate speech against Pakistani people, and derogatory and abusive treatment of Pakistani people".

"In Ofcom's view, the statements made in the programme, examples of which are mentioned above, were expressions of hatred based on intolerance of Pakistani people on the basis of their nationality alone, and promoted hatred and intolerance towards Pakistani people. Whilst Ofcom agreed that it was legitimate to discuss Indo-Pakistani relations, we did not accept the Licensee's characterisation of the programme as a whole. We considered it included repeated instances of hate speech and abusive or derogatory treatment. It was therefore our Decision that this content met Ofcom's definition of "hate speech"10 and that Rule 3.2 was breached".

The order further noted :

"We were particularly concerned by the fact that the programme broadcast material which included hate speech towards Pakistani people based on their nationality. These statements were broadcast without sufficient challenge and without sufficient context to justify their broadcast. Such material is inherently serious and the seriousness is more pronounced in the context of heightened tensions between India and Pakistan at the time of the broadcast, as described at paragraph 33 above. Based on these factors, we also considered this programme had the clear potential to cause significant offence and harm, in particular to Pakistani people".

The order added :

"The programme contained statements which amounted to hate speech against, and was abusive and derogatory about, Pakistani people on the basis of their nationality. Under the Equality Act 2010, race is a protected characteristic, and race includes both nationality and ethnic or national origins. These statements would potentially be harmful and highly offensive to any person who did not share the sentiment being expressed by the presenter and his Indian guests. In Ofcom's view, the potentially harmful and offensive nature of the content was compounded by the political context in which the episode of "Poochta Hai Bharat" was broadcast.

"We considered that the hate speech against the Pakistani people broadcast in this programme without sufficient challenge or context would potentially be particularly harmful in this context,as it had the potential to cause further damage to the already strained relationship between people of Indian and Pakistani origin. As a result, we were of the view that the material posed arisk of harm to the Pakistani community in the UK, and to good relations particularly between members of the UK's Indian and Pakistani communities".

The Licensee Worldwide Media Network has also been asked to air a public apology for the program and not to repeat the program.

The regulator dismissed the licensee's arguemnts by saying that they demonstrated aconcerning lack of understanding of what constitutes hate speech for the purposes of the Code.

Ofcom took into account that at the time of the broadcast, the Licensee was already aware,having been notified by Ofcom by telephone call and by email on 21 August 2019, that Ofcom was receiving a number of complaints about the service including in relation to "highlypejorative references to members of the Pakistani community (e.g. continually referring tothem as "filthy")". Ofcom asked the Licensee's compliance contact to remind the business of itso bligations under the Broadcasting Code. It was therefore the regulator's view that appropriate steps were not taken by the Licensee to prevent this contravention.

The operative portion of the order read as :

"Having regard to all the circumstances referred to above, including the need to achieve an appropriate level of deterrence and the particularly serious nature of the Code breaches in this case, and all the representations to date from the Licensee, Ofcom's Decision is that an appropriate and proportionate sanction would be a financial penalty of £20,000".

In addition, Ofcom considered that the Licensee should be directed to

:i.broadcast a statement of Ofcom's findings in this case, on a date and in a form to be determined by Ofcom; and to

ii.not repeat the programme.


Click here to read/download the order













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