British media regulator Ofcom has been fined a whopping £20,000 for airing hate speech against Pakistanis.
The Republic Bharat channel broadcasts rolling news and current affairs to the Hindi speaking community in the UK like dozens of Indian and Pakistani news and entertainment channels.
The fine has been imposed after the British media regulator found an episode of a show — Poochta Hai Bharat — hosted by controversial anchor Arnab Goswami containing hate speech against the people of Pakistan.
Ofcom told this correspondent in a statement: “We concluded that this was a serious breach of our rules which warranted the imposition of statutory sanctions. These include: a financial penalty of £20,000, payable to HM Paymaster General; a direction not to repeat the programme; and a direction to broadcast a statement of our findings on a date – and in a form - to be determined by Ofcom.”
The controversial episode of Poochta Hai Bharat was broadcast on 22 July, 2019. It featured a debate between Arnab Goswami and his guests (three Indians and three Pakistanis) relating to India’s attempt to send the spacecraft Chandrayaan 2 on its mission to the moon.
Other topics that came under discussion during the show included India’s record of space exploration and other technological advancements in comparison to Pakistan’s, the Kashmir issue, and Pakistan’s “alleged involvement in terrorist activities against Indian targets”.
In the programme, the presenter and some of his guests conveyed the view that all Pakistani people were terrorists, that even Pakistani sports celebrities and children were militants.
The presenter, addressing Pakistan and/or Pakistani people, said: “We make scientists, you make terrorists”.
Ofcom 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.
The British media regulator said in its findings: “We considered however that these statements, made by a retired major-general from the Indian Army, which clearly threatened that the Indian military would attack Pakistani civilians in their homes, were an expression of hatred and desire to kill by a figure of authority. In our view, the broadcast of these statements also promoted hatred and intolerance towards Pakistani people.”
Overall tone of the episode was 'provocative': Ofcom
Ofcom said that the overall tone of the discussion was provocative. “We also noted that Pakistani contributors were repeatedly interrupted and afforded little time to make points which may potentially have provided challenge or context.”
Ofcom said that the statements made in the programme “were expressions of hatred based on intolerance of Pakistani people on the basis of their nationality alone, and promoted hatred and intolerance towards Pakistani people”.
The licensee argued that the use of the term “Paki” was not intended to be offensive, nor would it be interpreted as such particularly when used in the sub-continent.
In Ofcom’s view, these negative descriptions constituted “uncontextualised abuse and derogatory treatment of Pakistani people on the ground of their nationality in breach of Rule 3.3. 38”.
The Republic TV told Ofcom that it shouldn’t be slapped with a fine and promised that no live discussion on India-Pakistan issues will be aired in future unless reviewed and edited first to comply with UK's laws but the Ofcom found that Republic TV had acted in recklessness and broken certain rules repeatedly.
Ofcom found that the material aired on Republic TV “posed a risk of harm to the Pakistani community in the UK, and to good relations particularly between members of the UK’s Indian and Pakistani communities”.
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