Ofcom imposes fine of £20,000 on UK operator of Republic Bharat for hate speech, inciting hatred towards Pakistani people [Read Order]

Ofcom imposes fine of £20,000 on UK operator of Republic Bharat for hate speech, inciting hatred towards Pakistani people [Read Order]

The fine was imposed with reference to an episode of the show 'Poochta Hai Bharat' telecast which was found to be in breach of the Broadcasting Code for its comments and contents targeting Pakistan and Pakistanis.

Ofcom, the regulator of communication services in United Kingdom, has imposed a fine of £20,000 on Worldview Media Network Limited which owns the license to operate Republic Bharat in United Kingdom.

The fine was imposed with reference to an episode of the show 'Poochta Hai Bharat' telecast on September 6, 2019 which was found to be in breach of the Ofcom Broadcasting Code (Code) for its comments and contents targeting Pakistan and Pakistanis.

The broadcast of the relevant episode of 'Poochta Hai Bharat' featured a debate between the host, Arnab Goswami, and his guests (three Indian and three Pakistani) relating to India’s attempt to send the spacecraft Chandrayaan 2 on its mission to the moon.

Ofcom had on February 24, 2020 found Worldview to be in breach of the Code. It had then put Worldview on notice to consider the breaches and afforded Worldview the opportunity present its case. Worldview submitted written submissions but did not make any oral representation at the hearing.

The order passed on Tuesday said that in the programme, 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 Ofcom order said.

"We considered these statements to be expressions of hatred based on intolerance of Pakistani people based on their nationality alone, and that the broadcast of these statements spread, incited, promoted and justified such intolerance towards Pakistani people among viewers," Ofcom ruled.

It concluded that the programme was in breach of Rules 2.3 (offensive and discriminatory language), 3.2 (hate speech) and 3.3 (abusive and derogatory treatment of individuals, religions or communities) of the Code.

The decision was taken despite an apology which was broadcast by Republic Bharat in English and Hindi for a total of 280 times.

In addition to the fine, Ofcom also directed the operator not to repeat the programme.

"Given that the Licensee has recorded a number of breaches within a short time, Ofcom is requesting that the Licensee attend a meeting to discuss its compliance arrangements," it added.

[Read Order]

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