On Tuesday, the British telecoms regulator Office of Communications (Ofcom) fined Worldview Television Network £ 20,000 after a programme showing “hate speech” against Pakistanis was broadcast by its Indian channel Republic Bharat TV.
In a decision published earlier this year, Ofcom found that the presenter Arnab Goswami and some of his guests made “several statements which amounted to hate speech against, and derogatory and abusive treatment of, Pakistani people”
“The show was also “potentially offensive” and in defiance of the Code of Broadcasters.
“Due to the serious nature of these breaches we are considering imposing a statutory sanction,” Ofcom said in the judgement.
Transcripts from the show that aired on Sept 6, 2019 were used in the ruling. Among other items, the show addressed India’s space programme, the Kashmir issue and “Pakistan’s alleged involvement in terrorist activities against Indian targets”
Ofcom claimed that by broadcasting material that contained “hate speech, abusive and derogatory treatment of individuals, groups, religions or communities and offensive content” the show violated sections 2.3, 3.2 and 3.3 of the Broadcasters’ Code.
The regulator also demanded a clarification from Worldview Media Network, the licensee which airs Republic Bharat in the UK. The network claimed that the show was “based on evidence” and “did not promote terrorism or hatred and it certainly did not promote or justify hatred in any way” but the watchdog did not think this an appropriate justification.
Following the punishment, the network advised the regulator that it was stopping the broadcasting of live debates on Pakistan-India ties and would ensure that content was checked before it was broadcast along with other acts.
In its opinion, Ofcom claimed that it was mindful of the right of the broadcaster to freedom of expression and did not forbid the transmission of programmes on controversial subjects, since it was “clearly in the public’s interest” Broadcasters should ensure, however, that they comply with the code, it said.
One of the visitors, General K. K. Sinha, said that comments were “an expression of hatred and desire to kill by a figure of authority” and comments stating that all Pakistanis were terrorists were considered “expressions of hatred based on intolerance of Pakistani people based on their nationality alone”
It noticed that although the programme also included Pakistani contributors, they were “repeatedly interrupted and given little time to make points”
Ofcom said in a statement on its website that the channel will have to air the regulator’s results on a “date and in a form to be determined by Ofcom” in addition to the fine. The channel was also instructed not to replay the programme.