NBDSA fines channels for spreading communal hatred 

The NBDSA has fined Times Now Navbharat and News 18 India Rs 1 lakh and Rs 50,000, respectively, and also issued a warning to Aaj Tak.

| Updated: 01 March, 2024 1:56 pm IST

NEW DELHI: The News Broadcasting & Digital Standards Authority (NBDSA), headed by retired Supreme Court judge Justice AK Sikri, has taken action against several television news programs for their role in spreading hatred and communal disharmony. The NBDSA has fined Times Now Navbharat and News 18 India Rs 1 lakh and Rs 50,000, respectively, and also issued a warning to Aaj Tak. Additionally, all three channels have been directed to remove the online uploads of the offending programs within seven days.

The action was taken following complaints lodged by activist Indrajeet Ghorpade, who cited violations of the Code of Ethics & Broadcasting Standards, particularly regarding impartiality, objectivity, neutrality, and accuracy. Moreover, the NBDSA noted breaches of guidelines related to hate speech prevention, conducting programs with anchors, and avoiding communal narratives in reporting incidents.

READ MORE : ‘Convert, marry me or die’: Bihar model accuses Muslim man of love jihad

The NBDSA observed that the media has the right to conduct debates on any topic of its choice. However, programs targeting one entire community for the acts of a few individuals should be avoided. Taking objection to the Times Navbharat program on “love jihad”, the NBDSA further observed, “On a perusal of the impugned broadcast, it appears that at the very beginning of the broadcast, the anchor has concluded that men from a certain community lured women from another community by hiding their religious identity and then committed violence or murders against such women and every such violence or murder committed on women of a certain community related to ‘love jihad’.”

“Love Jihad” is a disputed allegation that Muslim men deceive women from other faiths into converting to Islam by pretending to love them. “This is evident from the questions raised and statements made by the anchor during the impugned broadcast. When some of the panellists expressed their concerns regarding the communal angle being given to such alleged incidents and regarding selective cases of violence against women where the perpetrator belonged to a particular community, the anchor shouted them down and did not allow them to express their views,” NBDSA added.

NBDSA also observed that there may be some instances where boys from a particular community married Hindu girls by hiding their religious identity and then committed violence against them. However, this does not mean that every inter-faith relationship is “love jihad” and that the entire Muslim community is involved in such acts. The NBDSA also reprimanded News 18 India for three shows, two of which were anchored by Aman Chopra, and one by Amish Devgan. These shows were found to have communalised the Shraddha Walker case as “love jihad”. Similarly, Aaj Tak was warned for a program anchored by Sudhir Chaudhary, which generalised acts of violence during Ram Navami as targeting a particular community.

READ MORE : Delhi love jihad murder: Experts points at societal decline

The NBDSA urged the news channels to adhere to the Code of Ethics & Broadcasting Standards and to refrain from broadcasting any content that may incite communal hatred or violence. The NBDSA also reminded the news channels of their responsibility to uphold the values of secularism, pluralism, and diversity in a democratic society.

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