Victory! NBSA rules in CJP’s favour in Complaint against Zee News Broadcaster warned, asked to remove content
03, May 2019 | CJP Team
In a huge victory for CJP’s campaign against hate speech, the News Broadcasting Standards Authority (NBSA) has acted on our complaint against Zee News and asked the channel to take down inflammatory and violence inducing content broadcast in June 2018 during its show Kya Kehta Hai India.
In its order issued on May 1, the NBSA has stated, “NBSA has decided that a warning be issued to the broadcaster (Channel: Zee News) and that any future violations would be viewed seriously.” NBSA also directed that, “a video of the said programme, if hosted, on the website of Zee News or any other links should be removed immediately and confirmed to NBSA.”
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The NBSA holds that the broadcaster violated the, “Specific guidelines covering Reportage No. 2 Impartiality, Neutrality & Fairness 2.1 which states that ‘For balanced reportage, broadcasters should remain neutral and ensure that diverse views are covered in their reporting, especially on a controversial subject, without giving undue prominence to any particular view’ and Guideline 3. Law & Order, Crime & Violence which states that ‘Broadcasters should not glamorize or in any way promote individuals, groups or organisations, that employ or advocate the use of violence or engage in criminal/nefarious activity. Hooliganism, vandalism and all forms of delinquency should not be shown in favourable light’ and the Clause 7 of the Principles of Self-Regulation of the Code of Ethics and Broadcasting Standards endangering National Security.”
The entire order may be read here:
Brief Background of the Case
The show had been broadcast in June 2018 and featured multiple poets who called for widespread violence against the population of Jammu and Kashmir, with no regard to the hatred they were propagating. They also displayed no sensitivity towards the possible effects of such propaganda, especially on the delicate socio-cultural fabric of Indian society today.
CJP first wrote to Zee on July 9, seeking an appropriate apology to the Indian public “for carrying such irresponsible, inflammatory and violence-inducing content” and breaching basic media ethics and principles. Our letter to Zee News may be read here:
After failing to get a response from Zee, CJP filed an official complaint with the NBSA on July 30. CJP, through its president, Anil Dharker and secretary, Teesta Setalvad filed a detailed complaint against the television network for airing the programme that, in CJP’s considered view, was both hate-filled and violence-inducing. Our letter to the NBSA may be read here:
Action from the NBSA prompted Zee’s response to CJP, dated August 23. Mr. Raghav of ZMCL contended that the Zee News programme in question was based on the surgical strikes mounted by the Indian military in September 2016, to which CJP responded in our letter, noting that they were “in no way is the defining moment or justification” for the programme. Zee News’s response may be read here:
CJP’s Response to Zee’s Reply
CJP replied to the NBSA, countering Zee’s response, which highlighted that Article 19 of the Indian Constitution guarantees the right to freedom of expression. We argued in our letter that Zee’s reply “in no way satisfactorily responds to the issues raised in our complaint,” and reiterated that Zee News violated NBSA code of conduct, which states that national security must not be violated. CJP also highlighted that “nationalism” was argued as justification for airing the Zee News programme, arguing, “We believe, in no way, does violence and or vitriol embody nationalism.” We reiterated our original requests, calling on the NBSA to direct Zee News to issue a public apology. CJP’s response to Zee News’s response may be read here:
NBSA considers submissions
In a decision communicated to CJP on February 8, 2019, the NBSA has clearly stated that, in its meeting held on January 17, 2019, the original complaint and the response of the broadcaster were considered and the original CD of the broadcasted programme was also viewed.
In the communication received by CJP, the NBSA has stated that, the NBSA has stated that, “NBSA was of the view that the broadcaster was in breach of the Specific Guidelines Covering Reportage No. 2 Impartiality, Neutrality & Fairness 2.1 which states that ‘For balanced reportage, broadcasters should remain neutral and ensure that diverse views are covered in their reporting, especially on a controversial subject, without giving undue prominence to any particular view’ and Guideline 3. Law & Order, Crime & Violence which states that ‘Broadcasters should not glamorize or in any way promote individuals, groups or organisations, that employ or advocate the use of violence or engage in criminal/nefarious activity. Hooliganism, vandalism and all forms of delinquency should not be shown in favourable light’ and the Clause 7 of the Principles of Self-Regulation of the Code of Ethics and Broadcasting Standards endangering National Security.”
A hearing was scheduled for March 25, but an adjournment was sought. The hearing then took place on March 28. The counsel of the complainant submitted that the tone and tenor of the program focused on communal hatred. We submitted that a news channel cannot put out such divisive propaganda. Also, that there was “no neutrality/objectivity or balance in the programme.” The broadcaster submitted that in the context of the government releasing videos of the surgical strikes six poets were invited to the programme “to invoke patriotic and nationalistic feelings among the people.” They also submitted that “the programme was not intended to polarise citizens nor to spread negative propaganda, nor to encourage violence against any class of people in the country/society.”
The final order was passed on May 1.
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