NBSA reprimands three TV channels over Tablighi Jamaat reports

A view of the Tablighi Jamaat Centre at Nizamuddin.  

The National Broadcasting Standards Authority (NBSA), acting on complaints filed by the Bengaluru-based Campaign Against Hate Speech (CAHS), has reprimanded three television channels — Times Now, TV18 Kannada, and Suvarna News — over reports that “targeted Tablighi Jamaat members” during the pandemic in 2020.

The CAHS had taken objection to two programmes aired by TV18 Kannada on April 1, 2020, on Tablighi Jamaat. In his order, Justice A.K. Sikri (retd.), chairperson of NBSA, noted, “... the manner in which the programmes were presented was highly objectionable. The news report was based on pure conjecture. The tone, tenor and language was crass, prejudiced and disrespectful...”

The NBSA has imposed a fine of ₹1 lakh on the broadcaster payable to the National Broadcasters Association (NBA) and directed it to run an apology on air on June 23 for violating the Code of Ethics and Broadcasting Standards. The authority has also asked the broadcaster to take down videos of the two programmes from all web portals.

Acting on a complaint against seven programmes aired by Suvarna News between May 31 and April 4, 2020, the NBSA noted in its order, “The entire blame/cause of the spread of the coronavirus was linked to the Tablighi Jamaat and, in turn, to a particular community. The titles of the programmes had an insidious effect which would incite communal violence...” It also noted that “there was certainly a lack of balance, objectivity and impartiality in the programmes” and they “were overtly prejudiced against a particular religion”. The NBSA has imposed a fine of ₹50,000 on the broadcaster, payable to the NBA, and asked it to take down the videos from public forums.

Over a complaint against a panel discussion “Is Tablighi Jamaat wilfully sabotaging India?”, aired on April 2, 2020, the NBSA has issued a censure to Times Now “for telecasting such a programme on a sensitive issue which could create communal dissension amongst communities”. Justice A.K. Sikri, in his order, stated, “The anchor of the programme made certain statements relating to the Tablighi Jamaat which were violative of the fundamental principles mentioned above [accuracy, impartiality, neutrality, and objectivity].”

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Printable version | Jul 25, 2021 2:33:46 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/nbsa-reprimands-three-tv-channels-over-tablighi-jamaat-reports/article34843558.ece

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