The News Broadcasting Standard Authority (NBSA) took the action based on complaints filed by the “Campaign Against Hate Speech (CAHS)”, which a group of civil society members concerned about the growing hate fueled by fake news and misinformation against communities during the rise of Covid-19 in India. The NBSA fined News18 Kannada Rs 1 lakh and Suvarna News Rs 50,000.
TCN Staff Reporter
The News Broadcasting Standard Authority (NBSA) has taken action against three news channels in a case of objectionable reporting on Tablighi Jamaat congregation during the early days of the Covid-19 crisis last year. NBSA has imposed Rs. 1 lakh fine on News18 Kannada and Rs. 50,000 on Suvarna News for their reporting of the Tablighi Jamaat incident of March 2020. The NBSA has also censured the English news channel Times Now for the same. NBSA has also directed them to apologize.
Notably, when the country was going through a mounting health crisis last year due to the outbreak of Covid-19, a religious organization Tablighi Jamaat was unfairly accused of “spreading the coronavirus by many of the national and vernacular news channels, including these three.”
A certain section of the media had targeted the Tablighi Jamaat’s Markaz in New Delhi, holding people, who had attended the congregation, responsible for spreading the coronavirus.
Pertinently, Times Now aired a program mischievously titled, “Is Tablighi Jamaat deliberately sabotaging India” with a panel discussion.
The Muslim community was targeted by various news channels through biased coverage and hate was spread against the Muslim community by doing such programs against Tablighi Jamaat.
The various media houses blamed the Tablighi Jamaat for the pandemic, calling them “super spreaders” and “greater viruses” among many other things. Many media channels had even called it “Corona Jihad”, and therefore blame the Muslim community. People associated with Tablighi Jamaat were arrested en masse, although everyone was later acquitted by the court.
In its order, the NBSA Chairman, Retired Justice AK Sikri said that, “the programs presented were highly objectionable and baseless” and added that “the news reports circulated were based on conjecture.”
NBSA chairman condemned telecasting such programs and also called them out for creating communal differences between the two communities.
Justice AK Sikri in his order said that the anchor of the program had made certain objectionable statements related to Tablighi Jamaat, which could disrupt the communal harmony.
In its order, NBSA has asked all the web portals to remove the related misleading videos. The accused news channels have been instructed to deposit the fine within seven days.
The NBSA took the action based on complaints filed by the “Campaign Against Hate Speech (CAHS)”, which a group of civil society members concerned about the growing hate fueled by fake news and misinformation against communities during the rise of Covid-19 in India.
The Bengaluru based “Campaign Against Hate Speech” had earlier objected to these programs run on Tablighi Jamaat and filed a complaint with the News Broadcasting Standard Authority (NBSA) regarding the event. In the complaint filed with NBSA, the CAHS had spoken of inciting communal differences between the two communities and spreading hatred against Muslims in the society.
NBSA in its order stated that the language of the program broadcast by news channels on Tablighi Jamaat was indecent.
“The language of the news channels was provocative and tried to disregard religious sentiments and break the structure of social harmony. News channels tried to incite social rifts with these programs,” the order said.