Republic Bharat | Video grab

The British broadcasting regulator has slapped a fine of £20,000 (approximately Rs 19.8 lakh) on Republic Bharat Hindi news channel broadcaster in the UK for a debate on the channel that it found contravened the code against “hate speech”.

The broadcasting regulator fined Worldview Media Network Limited which holds the rights for broadcasting the channel in the UK, on December 22.

In its order, the Office of Communications (OfCom), said that on the show “Poochta Hai Bharat” broadcasted by Republic Bharat on September 6, 2019, “Ofcom’s executive found that this programme contained uncontextualised hate speech and that this content was potentially highly offensive, breaching Rules 2.3, 3.2 and 3.3 of the Code”, stated a report published in the Indian Express.

Rule 2.3 of the OfCom Broadcasting Code states that broadcasters “must ensure that material which may cause offence is justified by the context” and it may “include, but is not limited to […] offensive language, […] discriminatory treatment or language (for example on the grounds of […] religion or belief […]”.

Rule 3.2 states that “Material which contains hate speech must not be included in television… except where it is justified by the context,” while Rule 3.3 says that “Material which contains abusive or derogatory treatment of individuals, groups, religions or communities, must not be included in television… except where it is justified by the context…”

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‘Republic Bharat programme contained hate speech’

The order stated that the “programme (on Republic Bharat) contained statements which amounted to hate speech against, and was abusive and derogatory about, Pakistani people on the basis of their nationality”.

“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. In Ofcom’s view, the potentially harmful and offensive nature of the content was compounded by the political context in which the episode of Poochta Hai Bharat (on Republic Bharat) was broadcast.”

It further stated that it “considered that the hate speech against the Pakistani people broadcast in this programme without sufficient challenge or context would potentially be particularly harmful in this context, as it had the potential to cause further damage to the already strained relationship between people of Indian and Pakistani origin”.

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