Ofcom, the UK’s communications regulator, has imposed a $27,103 (€22,200) fine on the license holder of pro-government Indian news channel, Republic TV, for breaching its broadcasting code.
The regulator cited hate speech and derogatory comments against Pakistanis on Republic’s prime time show, Poochta Hai Bharat, for the move. The show had aired in September 2019.
Worldview Media Network Ltd, the licensee of Republic TV, has been banned from airing the show in the UK again.
“In the program, the presenter (Arnab Goswami) and some of his guests conveyed the view that all Pakistani people are terrorists… “their scientists, doctors, their leaders, politicians all are terrorists, even their sportspeople, every child is a terrorist over there. You are dealing with a terrorist entity.”
One guest also described Pakistani scientists as “thieves,” while another described Pakistani people as “beggars,” Ofcom had said in February when it imposed first a statutory sanction on the show.
“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 regulator added.
At the time, Worldview Media had said that some figures of speech in the show were not supposed to be taken literally and Asian viewers would have understood that.
This is the third time that Ofcom has found Republic breaching its broadcasting code, but it is the first time that the regulator has issued a fine.
Republic’s right-wing leanings
Since it launched in 2017, Republic TV has been accused of biased reporting in favor of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party and Hindu nationalism.
Critics say the channel has used irresponsible and opinionated reporting in an attempt to spark communal tensions.
The channel’s anchor and editor-in-chief, Arnab Goswami, has been frequently criticized for hosting aggressive debates that air inflammatory, right-wing and occasionally Islamophobic comments.
Earlier this month, the chief executive of Republic Media Network was arrested in the Indian city of Mumbai for allegedly manipulating viewership for its channels.
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