UK Media Reg Body Fines Republic TV 20,000 Pounds for Flouting Hate Speech Rules

By: Sagar R
23 Dec 2020 11:48:22 AM Student Journalist, Mysore, Karnataka

The United Kingdom's media regulatory body, the Office of Communications, on Tuesday, fined Republic Bharat £20,000 (approximately ₹19.70 lakhs) for broadcasting content that it flagged as “offensive language”, “hate speech” and “abusive or derogatory treatment of individuals, groups, religions or communities.”



The Hindi news channel has been fined for a programme that was aired on September 6, 2019, titled “Poochta Hai Bharat'' which included editor-in-chief, Arnab Goswami, consulting editor Gaurav Arya and a few other guests discussing India’s Chandrayaan 2 spacecraft mission to the moon. Midway through the show, India’s space exploration and technological advancements were started to be compared to Pakistan which soon dissolved into a name-calling session with Pakistanis being branded “terrorists” and “public enemies.”


Gaurav Arya was even shown saying, “Their scientists, doctors, their leaders, politicians all are terrorists. Even their sportspeople. This entire nation is a terrorist. I do not think anyone has been saved. You are dealing with a terrorist entity.” 


In its press release, Ofcom said, “The comments made by Goswami and his guests on the discussion panel amounted to hate speech against Pakistani people, and derogatory and abusive treatment of Pakistani people”.


According to Ofcom's regulations for news broadcast in the UK, Rule 2.3 of the Ofcom Broadcasting Code states that broadcasters “must ensure that material which may offend is justified by the context” and it may “include, but is not limited to […] offensive language, […] discriminatory treatment or language (for example on the grounds of […] religion or belief […]”. Rule 3.2 states that “Material which contains hate speech must not be included in television… except where it is justified by the context,” while Rule 3.3 says that “Material which contains the abusive or derogatory treatment of individuals, groups, religions or communities, must not be included in television… except where it is justified by the context…”


The UK regulators have also taken note of the word “Paki” which is considered a racial slur that is unacceptable in the UK. 


Ofcom stated that the programme was  “potentially offensive and was not sufficiently justified by the context”. It added that the comments made were “expressions of hatred based on intolerance of Pakistani people based on their nationality alone” and promoted and justified intolerance towards Pakistani people among viewers.


Over the last few months, Ofcom has been keeping a keen eye on regulating harmful content on the UK's telecoms, TV and radio with a wide range of new rules that are aimed at eliminating harmful content and hate speech. 


Meanwhile, Republic TV’s legal battles with the Mumbai Police over the alleged television rating points manipulation scam continues following the Crime Branch’s arrest of Republic CEO Vikas Khanchandani.

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