Times Now, Kannada TVs censured for airing hate against Tablighi Jamaattext_fields
The National Broadcasting Standards Authority (NBSA) on Thursday issued an order censuring English channel Times Now and imposing a fine on Kannada channels News18 Kannada and Suvarna News for gaps in reporting news targeting Tablighi Jamaat members last year.
As per a report by The News Minute, the action comes following a complaint filed by Campaign Against Hate Speech (CAHS) against these channels for their hateful coverage of the Covid-19 pandemic in which they had targeted members of Tablighi Jamaat as well as the entire Muslim community.
According to TNM, the NBSA (an independent body set up by the News Broadcasters Association) issued a censure to Times Now for telecasting programmes that could cause communal dissensions.
The NBSA has also advised the broadcaster to avoid those persons being panellists who are known in the public domain to have rabid and extreme views.
Whereas News18 Kannada has been imposed a fine of Rs One lakh and ordered to air an apology in both text and voice-over on June 23, 2021, prior to the 9 pm news, Suvarna News has been imposed a fine of Rs 50,000.
Both channels have also been ordered to immediately remove the 'hateful' broadcasts from their channel's websites, Youtube and other platforms within 7 days.
In its order, NBA had noted that the programmes were prejudicial, inflammatory, and crossed all boundaries of good taste and sensibility without any concern for the feelings of a religious group.
It also observed that they were based "on pure conjecture" and that "the tone, tenor and language was crass, prejudiced and disrespectful".
As per TNM's report, the CAHS, run by a group of activists, parents, lawyers, and academicians to hold the media accountable, had moved the NBSA on April 14, 2020, raising a complaint against the Times Now's programme anchored by anchor Sakshi Joshi titled, "Is Tablighi Jamaat wilfully sabotaging India?", aired on April 2, 2020.
In its complaint, CAHS pointed out that the anchor and other panellists such as BJP spokesperson Narendra Taneja and academician Geeta Bhatt had targeted the Muslim community.
CAHS said that Swati made many unsubstantiated claims and accusations through the show including that appalling reports were coming that Tablighis have refused to abide by social distancing while in isolation and accused them of spitting, abusing, and thrashing the frontline warriors who are attending to them.
Although Times Now, in its reply, claimed that the programme had varied voices and that it was not against the Muslim community, NBSA concluded that it has found that certain statements made by the anchor violated the NBSA Code of Ethics and there was no proof to substantiate some of the imputations.
CAHS had complained against News18 Kannada for broadcasting two programmes — "Do you know how Delhi's Nizamuddin Markaz which has spread the Coronavirus to the nation" and "How many have gone to Delhi's Jamaat congregation from Karnataka?"
According to CAHS, the anchor of the first show had made derogatory remarks targetting the Muslim community and accused that the entire nation has been infected with Corona due to that one congregation.
In the second show titled, "How many have gone to Delhi's Jamaat states, the congregation from Karnataka?", the anchor likened the Jamaat congregation to Wuhan in China, implying that it is the epicentre of the spread of the virus in India.
The complaint against Kannada news channel Suvarna News was for seven programmes telecast between March 31 and April 4, 2020, most of them targeting the Tablighi Jamaat without any proof, CAHS said.
In one programme telecast on April 2, CAHS argued that the channel showed the video of a young Muslim man wiping his nose with a currency note and said that the corona criminals have been exposed and said that these (Muslim) people are more dangerous than the coronavirus.
The anchor also referred to Muslims as 'them' and 'these devils,' CAHS said.
As of June 16 evening, the programmes in question have been removed by the respective channels.
(with inputs from The News Minute)