Days after the News Broadcasting Standard Authority (NBSA) ordered AajTak, the Hindi-language news channel of the India Today group, Zee News, News 24 and India TV to air an apology for its insensitive and sensationalised reporting of actor Sushant Singh Rajput’s death, the channels have complied with the same.
AajTak issues apology a day after the designated date
The Broadcasting Authority had ordered AajTak to air an apology on live on October 27 at 8 PM. The Hindi news channel aired its apology just after 9 pm on October 28. It specifically apologised for using taglines like “Aise kaise hit wicket ho gaye Sushant?” and “Sushant zindagi ki pitch par hit wicket kaise ho gaye“, stating it had violated clauses by which “any deceased person should be respected and their death should not be sensationalized”. However, it did not apologise for “manufacturing” tweets, which had been part of the NBSA’s order.
Aaj Tak was pulled up for telecasting fake tweets attributing to late actor Sushant Singh Rajput and passing off them as his last tweets. The channel was directed to air three apologies and pay a fine of Rs 1 lakh. “The broadcaster should have conducted its due diligence and verification prior to telecasting/uploading the tweets and not subsequently, which due diligence is a basic tenet and requirement of journalistic ethics and telecasting the tweets without verification had the tendency of spreading misinformation amongst the public,” the NBSA had said.
AajTak peddled several such fake news related to Sushant Singh Rajput
The Hindi news outlet AajTak, part of India Today network, had peddled several such fake news related to Sushant Singh Rajput. It had published an elaborate report on late actor Sushant Singh Rajput’s “last tweets” on June 16, two days after the actor was found dead in his house in Mumbai.
It had also tweeted the article from its official Twitter account. In the report, AajTak had claimed that the actor had tweeted thrice before his death before taking his own life. The news channel had shared some emotionally-charged “tweets” where the late actor allegedly hinted taking his own life were subsequently deleted. But those fake tweets and they were not posted by the actor before his death. Aaj Tak later took down its report without clarification.
Zee News apologises for running insensitive tag lines while reporting actor Sushant Singh’s death
Zee News was hauled up for running insensitive tag lines like: “Patna ka Sushant, Mumbai me fail kyu?”, among other violations of the NBSA code. NBSA had asked the channel to air an apology also on October 27.
Zee News had admitted that it had violated specific guidelines by sensationalising its reports on the death of the actor, which it said created “panic, distress, or undue fear among viewers”. The apology was aired at 9 pm in accordance with the NBSA’s instructions.
The video of Zee News’s apology, was posted on Twitter by Saurav Das, one of the complainants.
@ZeeNews apologises to the nation for violating reporting standards on a complaint lodged by me and others.— Saurav Das (@OfficialSauravD) October 27, 2020
Doesn’t feel this is enough. But yeah, they’ve done it and should be ashamed of it @sudhirchaudhary
Watch the apology👇🏻 pic.twitter.com/hroFfCZYmC
India TV apologises for broadcasting pictures of the mortal remains of Sushant Singh Rajput
Moreover, India TV was told to apologise for repeatedly broadcasting pictures of Rajput’s mortal remains, and describing it in gruesome detail. It is pertinent to note here that OpIndia had then reported how these viral images may have been morphed to push suicide theory.
The channel apologised at 9 pm on the designated day, admitting that they had “violated Clause 3.6 of the Specific Guidelines Coverage….which state that ‘the dead must be treated with respect.. Close-ups of dead and mutilated bodies should not be shown.’”
Meanwhile, the authority has also ordered News 24 to telecast an apology on October 29 for insensitive and sensational coverage of the actor’s death. The authority said the taglines run by News 24 were “offensive and affect the dignity of the deceased” by indicating that Rajput had himself forgotten the anti-suicide message given by him in his movie Chhichhore.
The authority had found the coverage in violation of its guidelines and asked the channels to apologise to viewers on air. On October 6, NBSA had said that the text, date and time of the apology will be given to the broadcasters.