29, Nov 2019 | Sanchita Kadam
CJP has furthered our original complaint on the inflammatory telecast to the NBSA.. We had first sent a complaint to TV Today (October 17, 2019) but the same failed to elicit a response. After which we proceeded to file complaint with the NBSA. Thereafter, a response from the broadcaster did not, in our view, answer the issues raised by us. In our response now, we have urged the NBSA to initiate inquiry into the matter at the earliest.
The complaint is based on two incidents where Aaj Tak acted in contravention to the guidelines set out by the NBSA. On October 16, 2019, a show titled देश के सबसे बड़े फैसले पर सबसे बड़ी बहस अयोध्या से Rohit Sardana के साथ was uploaded on Aaj Tak’s YouTube channel, after been aired on their TV Channel. In this show, an individual who was addressed as “Swami Karpatri Ji Maharaj” has expressed some controversial and abhorrent views with respect to the Ayodhya case and declared “18 November se ayodhya me ShriRam Janmabhoomi ka nirman hoga” and “faisla nischittaur se hai, mere paksh me hai”.
(On November 18, the formation/birth of Ram Janmabhoomi will begin; the Judgement will undoubtedly be in our favour.)
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This video which had a provocative statement now has more than 4 lakh views.
This was a provocative statement made without a disclaimer by the channel especially when the verdict, in such a sensitive and crucial matter, from the Hon’ble Supreme Court was awaited, but such statements tend to incite public disharmony and can lead to disruption of public order.
About the video, TV Today said that they promote ideological diversity and that this debate was a representation of the same. It also said that the debate was meant for healthy exchange of opinion and intellectual deliberation and also used freedom of speech to justify the same.
In our response we have said, “While that is a healthy practice, the debate that is being complained against, was in clear contravention of the Important Advisory issued by the NBSA, dated October 16, 2019 regarding “Reporting of Ayodhya matter pending in the Hon’ble Supreme Court” (Advisory) as also NBSA’s Specific Guidelines Covering Reportage (Guidelines). The broadcaster cannot resort to and misuse the freedom of speech and expression bestowed upon by the Constitution of India under Article 19(1)(a) as the same is to be read, at all times, with Article 19(2) which imposes reasonable restriction on the freedom of speech and expression. These reasonable restrictions have been embodied in the aforementioned Advisory and Guidelines issued by the NBSA. These Guidelines and Advisory have been issued by the NBSA to keep this very freedom of speech and expression in check so that such a fundamental right is not misused to serve malafide intents of any broadcaster.”
Secondly, Aaj Tak, on its Twitter account posted a tweet which can be found here:
Here is a screenshot of the tweet:
Quite clearly, this tweet was put out to provoke negative sentiments against one community and was an attempt to sensationalize the Ayodhya case news coverage. In their reply, TV Today claimed that, ““caption is not something that was coined and invented by the News Channel especially for the purpose of the telecast. Rather the same was taken out of the discussion that took place in the Courtroom during the hearing of Civil appeal in the Ayodhya dispute”.
In our response we have said, “Even if it is assumed that the caption was a quote picked from a Courtroom discussion, the same being highlighted by the News Channel in its Twitter post, as an advertisement or endorsement for its programme, does not uphold any of the principles mentioned hereinabove. These are fundamental principles which News channels/broadcasters ought to follow as a matter of principle and self-regulation, as members of the News Broadcasters Association (NBA).”
We have also pointed out how the caption does not carry any disclaimer saying that this is not a view endorsed by the News Channel neither is the name of the person who made the comment appearing after the caption.
We have further urged the NBSA to conduct a further inquiry and assessment in this regard as the response of TV Today is not satisfactory.
The response of CJP may be read below.
The response of TV Today may be read below.