A program of Republic Bharat breached broadcasting conditions by promoting "hatred and intolerance" Credit: File Image

The United Kingdom’s broadcast regulator (OfCom) on Tuesday imposed a fine of 20,000 pounds (approximately Rs 19.73 lakh) on Arnab Goswami’s Republic Bharat. A program of Republic Bharat’s show ‘Poochta Hai Bharat’ breached broadcasting conditions by promoting “hatred and intolerance” against a group of individuals.

The UK’s OfCom on Tuesday, 22 December, cited an episode of Republic Bharat’s show ‘Poochta Hai Bharat’ that was aired on 6 September 2019 through an order. The regulator concluded that the episode contained comments made by the host and some of his guests that amounted to hate speech against Pakistani people, and derogatory and abusive treatment of Pakistani people. The content was also potentially offensive and was not sufficiently justified by the context.

To read the order: click here

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The programme that was penalised was on India’s Chandrayaan 2 spacecraft mission to the moon and also delved into a comparison of India’s space exploration and technological advancements compared to Pakistan. Some of the comments made during the debate that featured Arnab Goswami and panellists from India and Pakistan, “amounted to hate speech against Pakistani people”.

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According to Ofcom’s order, the statements made in the programme, examples of which are mentioned above, were expressions of hatred based on intolerance of Pakistani people on the basis of their nationality alone, and promoted hatred and intolerance towards Pakistani people. Whilst Ofcom agreed that it was legitimate to discuss Indo-Pakistani relations, they did not accept the Licensee’s characterisation of the programme as a whole. Ofcom considered it included repeated instances of hate speech and abusive or derogatory treatment. It was therefore their decision that this content met Ofcom’s definition of “hate speech”10 and that Rule 3.2 was breached.

The Licensee Worldwide Media Network has also been asked to air a public apology for the program and not to repeat the program.

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