The News Broadcasting Standard Authority (NBSA) has slapped a fine of Rs 1 lakh on AajTak, the Hindi-language news channel of the India Today group for telecasting fake tweets relating to actor late Sushant Singh Rajput. It has also 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 and attributing them to the late actor. The text, date and time of the apology will be given to the broadcaster.
It has asked AajTak to submit the proof of compliance of the telecast of the apology to the association within 7 days of telecast. And also said that the fine should be payed to it within 7 days of receipt of the order.
AajTak spreads fake news on actor Sushant Singh Rajput’s death
India Today Group’s Aaj Tak has in the recent past spread 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. Aaj Tak had also tweeted the article from its official Twitter account. The Tweet where the news channel shared the link of the emotionally-charged report on these “tweets” where the late actor allegedly hinted taking his own life were subsequently deleted. Aaj Tak later took down its report without clarification. An archived link of the tweet can be viewed here.
The association has 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.
With regard to the telecasts of the images by channels like AajTak and India TV news, NBSA decided that the channels should apologise for the egregious violations of the aforesaid guidelines and in particular for the manner in which the images of the body of Sushant Singh Rajput were shown.
AajTak, while covering the death of the actor had displayed headlines like: “Aise kaise hit-wicket ho gaye Sushant?”, “Sushant zindagi ki pitch par hit-wicket kaise ho gaye” and “Sushant itne ashant kaise?” NBSA condemned the news channel for its irresponsible coverage by carrying the aforementioned tagline and said that the broadcaster has violated the Specific Guideline Covering Reportage.
Along with AajTak, the association also castigated channels like Zee News and News 24 for their coverage on Sushant Singh Rajput. The two media houses had used taglines like “7 questions on Sushant’s death”- “Patna ka Sushant, Mumbai me fail kyu?” and “Hey, why didn’t you watch your own film Sushant?” respectively.
In view of the above, NBSA has decided that the broadcasters AajTak, Zee News and News 24 be directed to air an apology.
India Today has also previously attempted to paint Sushant as a mentally disturbed person based on a leaked statement by the unethical therapist not medically licensed to make that diagnosis. Moreover, India Today’s ace employee Rajdeep Sardesai had also interviewed Rhea Chakraborty, the prime suspect in the death case of the actor. The interview was broadcast on Hindi news channel AajTak. The interview was widely condemned and the journalist was criticised for trying to whitewash the allegations against Rhea by carrying out an interview with a suspect in the case.