Republic Bharat's 'hate speech' invites £20,000 fine in UK
The British broadcasting regulator has slapped a fine of £20,000 (approximately Rs. 20 lakh) on Worldwide Media Network Limited, which broadcasts Indian channel Republic Bharat there, for promoting hatred against Pakistanis. Office of Communications (or OfCom) said that the Poochta Hai Bharat show violated several rules. It was the episode aired on September 6, 2019, that got the body's ire. Here's what happened.
The controversial episode featured Arnab Goswami, the editor of Republic group, and six panelists, three each from India and Pakistan. They were discussing India's Chandrayaan 2 mission of July 2019. During the debate, India's space exploration was compared with Pakistan's. The neighboring nation's alleged terrorist activities against India also figured, Ofcom claimed. At the time, tensions were also high due to Article 370's abrogation.
Ofcom said during the program, Goswami and some guests implied that all Pakistanis were terrorists. Gaurav Arya, one of the panelists, reportedly said, "Their scientists, doctors, their leaders, politicians all are terrorists. Even their sports people. This whole nation is terrorist. I do not think anyone has been saved. You are dealing with a terrorist entity." Addressing Pakistani people, Goswami said, "We make scientists, you make terrorists."
Ofcom noted that Pakistanis were likened to donkeys and monkeys and the "racist term Paki" was used. Worldwide Network denied fanning hatred and said the show found its roots in 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."
The licensee also drew Ofcom's attention to the poor revenue of the Republic network and the losses it suffered due to the coronavirus pandemic. But Ofcom underlined that the program contained statements that amounted to hate speech. "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," Ofcom noted.
"Ofcom's executive found that this program contained uncontextualized hate speech and that this content was potentially highly offensive, breaching Rules 2.3, 3.2 and 3.3 of the Code," the order read, adding that it came across the program during "routine monitoring" and subsequently ordered a translation.