Arnab Goswami‘s Republic Bharat, the Hindi arm of the Indian news channel Republic TV, has been fined 20,000 pounds by UK broadcast regulator Ofcom on Tuesday, for broadcasting comments that amounted to “hate-speech against Pakistani people”. The comments were made on editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami’s evening primetime show, Poochta Hai Bharat.
Ofcom, or the Office of Communications, is the government-approved broadcasting and telecommunications regulatory authority.
Ofcom issued a note to say that it found that, “an episode of the programme Poochta Hai Bharat contained comments made by the host and some of his guests that amounted to hate speech against Pakistani people, and derogatory and abusive treatment of Pakistani people”. The episode in question aired on September 6, 2019, and was about India’s attempt to send the spacecraft Chandrayaan-2 to the moon in 2019.
Oxcom has asked directed Worldview Media Network Limited, which holds the licence for airing Republic Bharat in the UK, to broadcast a statement of Ofcom’s findings. It is also barred from repeating the programme in the UK. Republic Bharat has also been asked to apologise.
Guests on the episode included Major Gaurav Arya, Maj General KK Sinha, and Prem Shukla of the BJP, as well as three guests from Pakistan. According to Oxcom’s note, the host and the Indian participants largely dominated the discussion.
In the episode, General Sinha says, “We will barge inside your home in Baluchistan, in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, in Karachi, in your area, in Multan, in Rawalpindi and kill you. From Lahore, from Karachi to Gilgit-Balistan when we will have control.”
Goswami, referring to the people of Pakistan, says “their scientists, doctors, their leaders, politicians all are terrorists. Even their sports people” and that “every child is a terrorist over there. Every child is a terrorist. You are dealing with a terrorist entity.”
These comments, among others, breached Rules 2.3 (offensive material justified by context), 3.2 (hate speech) and 3.3 (material that contains derogatory treatment towards individuals, groups, religions or communities) of the Ofcom Broadcasting Code, apart from the Equality Act 2010, Human Rights Act 199, and Communications Act 2003, the regulator has stated.
Ofcom concluded that the tone of the episode was “provocative comparing Pakistanis to donkeys and monkeys. We also noted that Pakistani contributors were repeatedly interrupted and afforded little time to make points which may potentially have provided challenge or context.”
Ofcom had notified Republic Bharat after the show was aired that it had received a number of complaints over how the show referred to Pakistanis. Republic Bharat’s explanation of the episode as “emotionally charged” but not promoting or justifying hatred in any way, was rejected by Ofcom.
As per 2011 census, Pakistanis constitute roughly 2 percent of the British population in the UK.