17, Oct 2019 | CJP Team
Hate politics appears to have found a fertile playground within the news media, especially television. Of late, when dealing with religious and sensitive content, a shrill rhetoric that pits one community against another, is insidiously put in motion. It is in this context that we discuss today programming by Aaj Tak on October 16, 2019, the day on which hearings concluded in the controversial Ayodhya dispute case.
The show-title itself painted a chilling picture of current state of TV news reporting. Such divisive programming showcases not only the biases of the television station, but also attracts a more rabid following, all the while keeping the political agendas of their powerful patron in sharp focus.
All parties in the Ayodhya case concluded their respective arguments before the Supreme Court on October 16, 2019. However, perhaps in a bid to win the TRP game, many news channels, famed for riding high on sensation, picked on a divisive rhetoric; pitting the majority community against the minority community, even when the dispute is being heard purely as a land dispute by the Supreme Court.
CJP is dedicated to finding and bringing to light instances of Hate Speech, so that the bigots propagating these venomous ideas can be unmasked and brought to justice. To learn more about our campaign again hate speech, please become a member. To support our initiatives, please donate now!
Amidst this news channel cacophony, came Aaj Tak with a disturbing show-title for a debate calling it “Janmabhoomi hamari, Ram hamare, Masjid wale kaha se padhare” (The birthplace is ours, Ram is ours, where have these ‘mosque people’ come from?)
There could be no sharper instance of ‘othering’. Unfortunately in today’s India it garners support and increased TRPs. Aaj Tak also put out this tweet on the evening preceding the final day of hearing of the Ayodhya case. There was a not so carefully hidden agenda of spreading hate and enmity between the two communities.
— आज तक (@aajtak) October 15, 2019
Though belatedly, the National Broadcasting Standards Authority (NBSA) issued a special advisory on the subject, hoping it will be followed by news broadcasters while covering news about the conclusion of proceedings in the highly sensitive case. The advisory issued on October 16, 2019 may be read here.
The advisory highlighted some very key tactics that news channels commonly resort to which could lead to the disruption of public harmony. The NBSA asked news channels not to speculate, to ascertain facts of the hearing before reporting, to refrain from showing mosque demolition footage, to not broadcast any celebrations of any community with regards to the Ayodhya case and to ensure that no extreme views are aired in the debates.
It was expected that after having received such advisory, Aaj Tak would retract and delete their hate-filled tweet and post. At the time of publishing this piece the tweet is still visible.