British broadcasting regulator Ofcom has imposed a fine of Rs. 19.7 lakhs on Worldwide Media Network Limited, which operates Republic Bharat in the UK, for allegedly making ‘hate-speech’ against Pakistan.
The Office of Communications or OfCom has imposed a £20,000 fine for a debate on the channel after it found the channel allegedly failed to comply with broadcasting rules.
The OfCom found a Republic Bharat show – “Poochta Hai Bharat” that was telecast on September 6, 2019, 14:26 pm to have allegedly contained “uncontextualised hate speech” and inciteful language against people from Pakistan that breached the Rules 2.3, 3.2 and 3.3 of the Code.
As per the Rule 2.3 of the OfCom Broadcasting Code, broadcasters must ensure that material which may cause offence is justified by the context and it may “include, but is not limited to […] offensive language, […] discriminatory treatment or language (for example on the grounds of […] religion or belief […]”.
Similarly, Rule 3.2 states that “Material which contains hate speech must not be included in television… except where it is justified by the context,” while Rule 3.3 says that “Material which contains abusive or derogatory treatment of individuals, groups, religions or communities, must not be included in television… except where it is justified by the context…”.
The order claimed that the Republic Bharat show contained statements which amounted to hate speech against, and was abusive and derogatory about, Pakistani people on the basis of their nationality.
“These statements would potentially be harmful and highly offensive to any person who did not share the sentiment being expressed by the presenter and his Indian guests. In Ofcom’s view, the potentially harmful and offensive nature of the content was compounded by the political context in which the episode of Poochta Hai Bharat was broadcast.”
World Media network defends its show, says it exposed Pakistan-sponsored terror
Meanwhile, following the order, Worldview media network has defended their show saying that the programme was based on “a legitimate story covering Pakistan’s involvement in terror activities backed by recent events and statements from leading Pakistani public figures at a time when India was working to become a Space power”.
In the show, according to the broadcaster, they were trying “to showcase how India has moved forward, while Pakistan in the same period has failed to develop at the same pace and how terror groups had been allowed to operate in [Pakistan]”. Worldview Media also asserted that the programme “did not promote terrorism or hatred and it certainly did not promote or justify hatred in any way”.
The broadcaster also clarified that the word “Paki” used during the programme was not intended as an insult but as a casual reference to the nationality of Pakistan’. It cited examples of the common use of the word “Paki” that had been reclaimed by Pakistani people.