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Tuesday January 25, 2022

Anti-Pakistan hate show: Arnab Goswami’s channel fined Rs4.3m in UK

December 23, 2020

LONDON: Britain’s media regulator Ofcom has imposed a £20,000 (Rs4.3 million) financial penalty on Republic Bharat TV (Worldview Media Network Limited) in the UK for serious broadcasting breaches after the channel aired hate speech against the people of Pakistan in a show conducted by controversial anchor Arnab Goswami.

The Ofcom announced on Tuesday that it has fined Republic TV for using “highly offensive hate speech against Pakistani people” over an episode of Poochta Hai Bharat, hosted by Goswani, in which seriously offensive terms such as “beggars”, “thieves”, “backward”, “Paki”, “donkeys” were used for 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 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.”

This broadcast of Poochta Hai Bharat on July 22, 2019, featured a debate between 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, 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 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”. The presenter, addressing Pakistan and/or Pakistani people, said: “We make scientists, you make terrorists”.

The 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.

A third guest, General Sinha said, “Oh you useless people. Beggars. Oh beggars, oh beggars. We will douse you with 1.25kg, .75kg-, with two inches. PoK8 , PoK, we are coming to the PoK. We are coming to the Gilgit, Baltistan, in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa…We are going to come, be ready. People in your country are shivering with fear that the Indian army may come. We will barge inside your home in Baluchistan, in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, in Karachi, in your area, in Multan, in Rawalpindi and kill you. From Lahore, from Karachi to Gilgit-Balistan when we will have control”.

The Ofcom 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.”

The Ofcom said that the overall tone of the discussion was provocative, comparing Pakistanis to donkeys and monkeys. “We also noted that Pakistani contributors were repeatedly interrupted and afforded little time to make points which may potentially have provided challenge or context.”

The 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 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 will be aired unless reviewed and edited first to comply with the UK laws but the Ofcom found that Republic TV acted in recklessness and broke rules repeatedly.

The 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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