U.K. regulator slaps penalty on Zakir Naik’s Peace TV

Ofcom observes that the breach of the code by channel was serious.

November 12, 2016 01:58 am | Updated December 02, 2016 02:55 pm IST - NEW DELHI:

Britain’s regulator, Ofcom, has imposed a penalty of £65,000 on Club TV Limited, the licence holder of Zakir Naik’s Peace TV Urdu in Britain for breach of the content code.

Mr. Naik’s NGOs in India are currently under government scrutiny and the process has been initiated to declare them terrorist entities under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).

The Ofcom regulator found the telecast of the public lectures by an Islamic scholar highly critical and potentially offensive to the Jewish people. This was broadcast on September 12 and 13 on Peace TV Urdu.

The order issued on Friday, found a number of discriminatory remarks made on the Jewish people as an ethnic group in the lectures delivered by Islamic scholar Israr Ahmed who died in April 2010. The role and actions of the Jewish people through history from c.1500 to the present day were examined in the lectures that had comments like “this cursed people…this cursed race”, found to be offensive under the Ofcom code.

Hate speech

The regulator observes that the breach of the code was serious as the content included numerous examples of overwhelmingly negative and stereotypical references to Jewish people which, in its view, were a form of hate speech. Ofcom was also concerned about the potential harm arising from such a speech.

The order states: Ofcom was concerned that the highly critical and negative statements made about Jewish people , uninterrupted by an individual likely to be held in high status by the viewers of Peace TV Urdu had the clear potential to cause harm by portraying Jewish people in highly negative terms.

In its defence, Club TV expressed its sincere regret and acknowledged that the contents should not have been broadcast. However, it argued that its viewer profile is over 25 years old — i.e. the channel’s viewers were not the youngest and most impressionable.

The contents aired on the channel have attracted the attention of the regulator in the past, but was not considered serious enough to warrant a statutory sanction. In November 2009, Ofcom found Peace TV in breach of its programme code for statements indicating it was permissible to beat a wife in certain circumstances.

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