Republic Bharat fined £20,000 by UK’s communications regulator for ‘hate speech’

Republic Bharat, the Hindi news channel arm of Republic TV, was fined £20,000 (approximately Rs 19.73 lakh) by the United Kingdom's communications regulator Office of Communications or Ofcom on Tuesday for broadcasting content containing “offensive language”, “hate speech” and “ abusive or derogatory treatment of individuals, groups, religions or communities”. Republic Bharat has also been asked to air an apology on the channel.

Worldview Media Network Limited — a UK-based firm — holds the licence for Republic Bharat, which broadcasts news and current affairs in Hindi.

As per a release, Ofcom has stated that in the channel’s “Poochta Hai Bharat” programme that was aired on 6 September, 2019, views expressed by the presenter Republic TV editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami and some of the guests have violated its broadcasting norms.

The programme for which Republic Bharat has been penalised was related to India’s Chandrayaan 2 spacecraft mission to the moon and “involved a comparison of India’s space exploration and technological advancements compared to Pakistan, and Pakistan’s alleged terrorist activities against Indian targets”, the release noted.

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Ofcom also cited a few examples that it said seemed to convey that all Pakistanis are terrorists: “their scientists, doctors, their leaders, politicians all are terrorists. Even their sportspeople”; “every child is a terrorist over there. Every child is a terrorist. You are dealing with a terrorist entity".

The regulator also took note of 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.

“In the context of these criticisms, the presenter (Goswami), addressing Pakistan and/or Pakistani people, said: ‘We make scientists, you make terrorists’,” the release said.

Ofcom made note that the content of 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.

It also took note of the use of the term “Paki”, which it said was a racist word and unacceptable to the audience of the UK.

However, as per The Print.in , in its defence, Worldview Media Network 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”.

The channel also added that the programme “did not promote terrorism or hatred and it certainly did not promote or justify hatred in any way”.



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