NBSA pulls up Zee News for violating guidelines by airing provocative programmes
May 4, 2019
MUMBAI: The News Broadcasting Standard Authority (NBSA) has censured and issued warning to Zee News for violating the News Broadcasters Association’s (NBA) code of ethics & broadcasting standards and specific guidelines covering reportage.
Two complaints were filed against Zee News for telecasting a programmes titled “What tactics are Christians using to convince Hindu to convert to Christianity?” on 11th September, 2018 on the programme “DNA” and “Kya Kehta Hain India” on 30th June, 2018.
The NBSA noted that there were objectionable portions in both the programmes which were one-sided and were provocative in nature. They also had the potential to create communal strife.
The complaint against the programme “What tactics are Christians using to convince Hindu to convert to Christianity?” was filed by Dr Michael Williams. In his complaint, Williams stated that the anchor made derogatory, malicious, biased and misleading statements against the Christian community of Jaunpur.
The counsel for Zee News submitted that the complainant has given a communal colour to such an important issue wherein, they tried to generate public opinion on the evil of superstitions and misconceptions being spread and being used to target poor and gullible people.
It further stated that the said broadcast was on lines of various verifiable reports wherein some people in name of Christianity are targeting the gullible strata of society, emotionally, financially or physically weak people, in their trap.
NBSA noted that the problem lay in the manner the programme was conceptualized and presented by Sudhir Chaudhury, the anchor of the programme. It was not a debate programme so that the views of others could be ascertained to balance the programme.
It was a one-sided programme with only the views of the anchor.
Therefore, NBSA noted that the broadcast violated the Principles of Self-Regulation relating to Impartiality and objectivity in reporting and Ensuring neutrality and therefore decided to censure the channel for its failure to make a full and fair presentation of news and also warn the channel to be more careful in future and maintaining neutrality.
It also directed that the 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.
The complaint against the programme “Kya Kehta Hain India” was filed by Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) President Anil Dharker and Secretary Teesta Setalvad.
The complainant stated that the tone and tenor of the programme focused on communal hatred, disharmony as it provided a platform provided with complete endorsement and backing, as declared by the voice-over at the beginning of the programme, which called itself the “Constitution of Zee News” and that the programme has the recitation of poetry by various poets.
The broadcaster in its response stated that the programme in question provided a platform to eminent and acclaimed Hindi poets to present their views through poetry on nationalism and issues relating to Kashmir.
NBSA noted that there was no background to the programme and it was one sided as the channel only put together a particular view. There were no representatives in the programme to give another point of view resulting in lack of balance in the programme. Certain portions of the language used in the programme were unwarranted and was likely to incite /-instigates violence, animosity and hatred between communities.
Therefore, the NBSA was of the view that the objectionable portions of the programme cannot be defended by terming it as a news programme on surgical strikes to celebrate the valor of the armed forces. It further stated that the programme lacked impartiality, neutrality and it instigated violence. NBSA also noted that the role of the anchor of the programme was also questionable.
While stating that the broadcaster violated specific guidelines, the NBSA decided that a warning be issued to Zee News) and that any future violations would be viewed seriously. NBSA also directed that the video of the said programme, it hosted, on the website of Zee News or any other links should be removed immediately and confirmed to NBSA.
The authority had also received complaints against news channels for telecasting the video of Rifleman Aurangzeb released by Jaish e Mohammed (JeM), on 15th and 16th June, 2018. The complaint was made against News X, ABP News, Aaj Tak, India Today, Zee News, India TV and Republic by Director (Media) for Additional Directorate General of Public Information, Integrated HQ of MoD (Army).
The Additional Directorate General of Public Information Army Headquarters expressed reservations regarding the telecast of the video and requested that it should not be aired. A number of channels including News X, ABP News, Aaj Tak, India Today, Zee News, India TV and Republic aired the footage and, in some cases, showed it as screen shots.
It alleged that most channels showed the video glamourizing terrorism. It also stated that the telecast of such pictures or videos vacuously lends itself to terrorist propaganda, apart from affecting the dignity of the deceased soldier. The channels failed to show sensitivity towards the family of the deceased soldier.
In their defense, the broadcasters said that their intention behind broadcasting the story, was neither to glamorize violence or terrorism nor encourage the secessionist groups and interests, but to express anger and disgust against those who had abducted and killed the soldier.
After hearing the matter, the NBSA has asked the broadcasters to exercise care and caution in regard to matters of national security and in using any material made available by terrorist organisations.
NBSA was of the view that while it is necessary to keep the people informed by reporting on the killings of army personnel and on the militant/terrorist attacks, the manner of presentation of the news relating to such incidents in the telecasts by the news channels warrants serious consideration.
The authority also asked the broadcasters to report such news in a positive manner so that such telecasts do not deter the young men of our country from joining the armed forces or discourage the parents of youngsters from sending their sons/daughters to join the armed forces.
In the fourth case, the Electronic Media Monitoring Centre Deputy Director, had made a complaint against APN News regarding violation of programme code by airing West Bengal Panchayat Election violence news on 14th May 2018 and showing video of a son beating his mentally deranged father in Kushinagar.
In its justification the channel said that the said news item was aired in public interest and to draw attention of public at large.
After hearing the complaint on West Bengal Panchayat Election violence news aired by the channel, the authority noted that the broadcasts were shown to highlight the political violence and deaths during elections and it had been the endeavor of the news channels to highlight the same.
In fact, it noted that the reporting by the news channels on the incident led to legal action being taken against all those who were seen inciting violence, which eventually led to the normalization of the situation in the State.
NBSA noted that the news that was broadcast was in public interest, and was a part of media’s objective of highlighting before the public conscience, instances of condemnable conduct and actions, affecting the public life in current society. NBSA held that the broadcast did not violate any Broadcasting Standards or Guidelines.
In the video of a son beating his mentally deranged father in Kushinagar, NBSA did not find anything objectionable in the broadcasts nor any violation of NBA/NBSA Code of Ethics, Regulations and the Guidelines.
It also stated that the broadcast was justifiable on the ground of public interest, and as it is a part of media’s duty to highlight instances of condemnable conduct and actions, affecting the public life in current society.
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