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NBSA pulls up ABP News, India Today, Tez, Republic TV, Zee News

The News Broadcasting Standards Authority (NBSA) has passed orders dated April 2, 2019 with regards to the complaints it received against several news broadcasters like ABP News, India Today, Tez, Republic TV and Zee News on the telecast of different special programmes last year. 

A total of six complaints were made, out of which four complaints were received from Deputy Director of Electronic Media Monitoring Centre (EMMC), which included 2 complaints against ABP News and one each against India Today and Tez. 

The complaints related to a special programme broadcast by ABP News channel under the title ‘Viral Sachh’ in the context of young pupils of a school (purportedly RMVM School) who were mercilessly beaten up. 

After the some research done by NBSA, it was found that what was being circulated were fake videos relating to brutality being meted out to children in an orphanage in Egypt. NBSA warned the broadcaster to exercise greater caution and discretion in future while formulating news stories relating to depiction of violence or intimidation against children and that in future it would be viewed seriously. 

The second complaint by EMMC deputy director against ABP News was for a news report which showed a video where some boys are appealing to the people to buy country made guns to protect the Hindu religion. The video had gone viral on Twitter and Facebook. 

NBSA was of the view that while it is the duty of the news channel to report such news, it is equally necessary for news channels to be balanced in their reportage, not glamorise or in any way promote individuals/ groups/  organisations that employ or advocate the use of violence or engage in criminal/ nefarious activity. 

NBSA, therefore, warned the broadcaster to exercise greater care, caution and discretion in future. 

The third complaint was related to the telecast of a news bulletin about an audio clip of Masood Azhar, chief of the proscribed organisation Jaish-e-Mohammed, on India Today channel. 

The broadcaster stated that the telecast was aired when the Centre had directed the security forces to halt their operations during the month of Ramzan. 

The NBSA did not find merit in the submission of the broadcaster. It was of the view that there was no public interest in telecasting the hateful speeches of terrorists and that in such a situation, the channel should have merely reported about the video, without telecasting the hatful speech. It, therefore, directed the broadcaster to exercise greater care, caution and discretion in future while formulating news stories relating to propaganda by terrorists/ secessionists and warned the broadcaster that any similar future violations would be viewed seriously and action would be taken against the broadcaster. 

The fourth complaint was related to a special programme titled ‘Main Rakshash Hoon’ (I am a demon) on Tez News channel, in which several videos of a man humiliating his mother, children being thrashed and daughters-in-law beating up their mothers-in-law were shown. 

On this complaint, the broadcaster’s reply stated that the title of the programme – ‘Mein Hun Rakshas’ – showed that the intention of the channel was to highlight the heinous crimes that were being committed behind closed doors against aged relatives and children. 

On this, NBSA was of the view that the purpose could have been achieved by the channel by reporting the news rather than glorifying the brutality being meted out to the elderly, women and children. 

It, therefore, directed the broadcaster to exercise greater care, caution and discretion in future while formulating news stories relating to depiction of violence or intimidation against children, elderly and women and warned that any future violations by the channel would be viewed seriously and action would be taken against the broadcaster. 

The fifth complaint was from Sharad Shah against Republic TV for telecasting a news report on August 18, 2018, where the anchor had stated that Navjot Singh Siddhu, Minister of Local Government Tourism, Cultural Affairs, Punjab Government, was a member of the ISI. The anchor also alleged that Sindhu had received money from the ISI. Shah in his complaint stated that the said allegations were without any evidentiary basis, were defamatory and violated the Code of Conduct of NBA. 

NBSA found no merit in the contention of the broadcaster that the notice issued by NBSA was beyond the scope of the original complaint. It, therefore, decided to censure and warn the broadcaster that any future violations by the channel would be viewed seriously and action would be taken against the broadcaster. 

The sixth complaint was filed by Dr Manilal Valliyate, CEO, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), which pertained to three programmes telecast by Zee News under ‘Taal Thok Ke: Special Edition’ on September 3, 2018. 

PETA, which works for the promotion and protection of animal welfare, alleged that Zee News had used the defamatory tagline, “#AntiHinduPETA”, to sensationalise and promote the programme on social media even before the programme was aired. 

NBSA considered the submissions made by both the parties and viewed the CD and held that the broadcaster had violated Clauses 1 and 2 of Principles of Self-Regulation and Code of Ethics of NBA, dealing with Impartiality and Objectivity in reporting and ensuring neutrality and also guideline 2.1 of the NBSA specific guidelines covering reportage.

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