The News Broadcasting Standard Authority (NBSA) has ordered AajTak, the Hindi-language news channel of the India Today group, to air an apology on live on October 27 at 8 PM for telecasting fake tweets relating to actor late Sushant Singh Rajput, reports Live Law.
The NBSA had earlier asked AajTak to pay a fine of Rs 1 lakh and had asked the broadcaster to air an apology admitting on national television that it did not conduct the due diligence required prior to telecasting the tweets. The media network had telecast fake tweets attributing to late actor Sushant Singh Rajput and had passed off them as his last tweets.
In the earlier order, the NBSA after finding AajTak guilty of violating guidelines, had ordered AajTak to submit the proof of compliance of the telecast of the apology to the association within 7 days of telecast. However, the time and date for airing an apology was not notified by the NBSA then.
Addition to AajTak, the NBSA in its latest order has also directed Zee News, India TV, News24 to air apology for violating journalistic norms while reporting death of Sushant Singh Rajput.
AajTak spreads fake news on actor Sushant Singh Rajput’s death
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 piece 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.
AajTak 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. AajTak later took down its report without clarification. An archived link of the tweet can be viewed here.
After that, the NBSA had taken the matter into cognizance and had ordered AajTak to remove the videos of the said programme, if hosted, from its website, YouTube or other links immediately and confirm to NBSA within 7 days.
Many websites like newstracklive.com, India.com, news4nation.com, and many others had carried the same news which AajTak had reported. While newstracklive.com later deleted its report, India.com altered its story into a fact-check.
Moreover, the channels like AajTak and India TV had also shared images of Sushant Singh Rajput’s mortal remains, which had gone viral on social media. It is pertinent to note here that OpIndia had then reported how these viral images may have been morphed to push suicide theory.
BARC order holding India Today guilty of viewership malpractice
The NBSA’s order to India Today group to pay fine and apologise for the spreading fake news comes at a time when the media network has also been accused of manipulating viewership and accused in the ‘fake TRP’ scam.
India Today is in the dock after a complaint by Hansa Research, the company that manages the Bar-O-meters of BARC, alleged that the channel was bribing households with the meters installed to watch their channel for at least 2 hours a day.
Addition to that, BARC – the television viewership rating agency, had also asked TV Today network to pay Rs 5 lakh for indulging in viewership malpractices. OpIndia was the first to expose the matter regarding the show-cause notice being sent to TV Today Network by BARC in April this year.
In an exclusive report by OpIndia, it was revealed that TV Today Network had failed to provide a satisfactory answer to the BARC Disciplinary Council (BDC) as to the “abnormal” and “inexplicable” increase in India Today’s TRPs.
The BDC had passed an order imposing a fine of Rs 5 lakh on the media network for viewership malpractice. India Today Group had had later issued a statement admitting that it was fined by BARC for viewership malpractice. In its statement, the Group had accused BARC of leaking confidential hearings.