The United Kingdom’s communications regulator Office of Communications(OfCom) has imposed a fine of 20,000 pounds on Worldwide Media Network Ltd, which holds the license to broadcast ‘Republic Bharat’ as it found that Arnab Goswami’s program on ‘Republic Bharat’ breaches broadcasting conditions by promoting “hatred and intolerance” against a group of individuals.
The Licensee Worldwide Media Network has also been asked to air a public apology for the program of Republic Bharat and not to repeat the program.
The order of OfCom has stated that the show “Poochta Hai Bharat” 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 which was telecasted on 06 Sept 2019.
In the program, Arnab Goswami and the guests made comments about Pakistan while discussing India’s lunar exploration program ‘Chandrayaan 2’.
The Licensee was notified by Ofcom by telephone call and by email, that Ofcom was receiving a number of complaints about the service including in relation to “highlypejorative references to members of the Pakistani community.
Ofcom asked the Licensee’s compliance contact to remind the business of its obligations under the Broadcasting Code.
The order observed,
“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”.
The order commented that one of the guests identified as “General Sinha”, referred to people of Pakistan as “beggars” and threatened military attack on the country. Tuse of the term “Paki”, was a racist word and was not acceptable UK audience.
Ofcom agreed that it was legitimate to discuss Indo-Pakistani relations, but it did not accept the Licensee’s characterisation of the programme as a whole. But as it included repeated instances of hate speech and abusive or derogatory treatment, It was therefore their 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 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 order stated in the end,
“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”.
Ofcom considered that the Licensee should be directed to broadcast a statement of Ofcom’s findings in this case, on a date and in a form to be determined by Ofcom; and to not repeat the programme of Republic Bharat.