Republic TV owner Arnab Goswami’s Hindi news channel, Republic Bharat was fined 20,000 pounds (approximately Rs 19.73 lakh) by the United Kingdom’s communications regulator Office of Communications on Tuesday for broadcasting content that involved “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.
As per reports, The episode ‘Poochta Hai Bharat’ telecasted in the UK was found to be in breach of Ofcom’s ‘hate speech’ guidelines. The breach in question referred to the “Poochta Hai Bharat” episode on September 6, 2019, at 14:26 pm, which is a daily current affairs discussion programme, that broadcasted for the Hindi-speaking community in the UK, found the episode to have contained “uncontextualised hate speech” and inciteful language against people from Pakistan.
In a release detailing on the strictures, the Office of Communications, or Ofcom, said that in the channel’s “Poochta Hai Bharat” programme views expressed by the presenter Republic TV Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami and some of the guests violated its broadcasting norms. The sanctions have been imposed on Worldview Media Network Limited, which holds the licence for airing Republic Bharat in the UK.
Ofcom defines “hate speech” as “all forms of expression which spread, incite, promote, or justify hatred based on intolerance on the ground of disability, ethnicity, gender, gender reassignment, nationality, race, religion, or sexual orientation.”
In the report of OfCom,further stated 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”.
Section 3 of the code of conduct dictates that hate speech must not be included in programmes, unless justified by context.
As per OfCom, “Material which contains hate speech must not be included in television […] programmes […] except where it is justified by the context”.
“Material which contains an abusive or derogatory treatment of individuals, groups, religions or communities, must not be included in television […] services […] except
where it is justified by the context…”
In Ofcom’s Decision published on 24 February 2020 in Issue 397 of the Ofcom Broadcast and On Demand Bulletin3 (the “Breach Decision”), Ofcom’s Executive found that this programme contained uncontextualised hate speech and that this content was potentially highly offensive, breaching Rules 2.3, 3.2 and 3.3 of the Code.
It also took note of the use of the term “Paki”, which it said was a racist word and unacceptable to the audience of UK.