"Posed a risk of harm to the Pakistani community in the UK"
Britain’s media regulator Ofcom has imposed a heavy fine of £20,000 on Republic TV licensed by Worldview Media Network Limited in the UK.
The fine has been imposed after the British media regulator found serious breaches of the UK’s broadcast rules.
Ofcom found an episode of the show hosted by controversial Indian anchor Arnab Goswami containing hate speech against the people of Pakistan.
The Republic TV channel broadcasts news and current affairs for the Hindi speaking community in the UK.
Ofcom issued a statement saying:
“We concluded that this was a serious breach of our rules which warranted the imposition of statutory sanctions.
“Including a financial penalty of £20,000, payable to HM Paymaster General and a direction not to repeat the programme.
“Republic TV will also broadcast a statement of our findings on a date and in a form to be determined by Ofcom.”
The controversial episode of Poochta Hai Bharat was broadcast on July 22, 2019.
The episode featured a debate between Arnab Goswami and his guests (three Indians and three Pakistanis).
The debate was held relating to India’s attempt to send the spacecraft Chandrayaan 2 on its mission to the moon.
Other topics that came under discussion during the show included India’s record of space exploration and other technological advancements in comparison to Pakistan’s.
The controversial anchor discussed the Kashmir issue and Pakistan’s “alleged involvement in terrorist activities against Indian targets”.
In the programme, the presenter and some of his guests conveyed the view that all Pakistani people were terrorists.
Arnab Goswami addressing Pakistan and/or Pakistani people said: “We make scientists, you make terrorists”.
Ofcom said: “We considered these statements to be expressions of hatred based on intolerance of Pakistani people based on their nationality alone.
“The broadcast of these statements spread, incited, promoted and justified such intolerance towards Pakistani people among viewers.”
In Ofcom’s view, these negative descriptions constituted:
“Uncontextualised abuse and derogatory treatment of Pakistani people on the ground of their nationality in breach of Rule 3.3. 38.”
Republic TV argued that the use of the term “P*ki” in the episode was not intended to be offensive.
The channel alleged that it would not be interpreted as such particularly when used in the south-Asian sub-continent.
However, Ofcom has noted that Republic TV had enacted in recklessness and broke British broadcasting rules repeatedly.
The channel is required to pay the fine of £20,000 for its infraction.
Ofcom has stated that the material aired on Republic TV:
“Posed a risk of harm to the Pakistani community in the UK, and to good relations particularly between members of the UK’s Indian and Pakistani communities”.