Will Arnab Goswami’s Republic TV apologise tonight?

The News Broadcasting Standards Authority has ordered the TV channel to air an apology at 10 pm on an issue pertaining to its #CongBharatMataClaim debate.

WrittenBy:NL Team
Date:
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Republic TV is supposed to tender an apology tonight at 10 for a broadcast from March this year. The issue pertains to a primetime debate, #CongBharatMataClaim, where the anchor Arnab Goswami, with the help of a panellist, Shantanu Gupta, cornered another panellist, Faheem Baig, into chanting “Bharat Mata Ki Jai”. 

In the video below (from 21:05 onwards), you can see Goswami and Gupta heckling Baig to shout the chant. Baig relents but Goswami and Gupta aren’t quite happy as Baig follows it up with a call for arresting Hafiz Saeed. True story.

In a complaint to the News Broadcasting Standards Authority, one Sharad Shah stated that the manner in which the Republic TV anchor conducted the debate sent out the message that one was not a patriot if one did not chant “Bharat Mata Ki Jai”. 

The complaint noted that Goswami “pilloried Shri Karim Baig, Muslim participant in the debate, to say ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’ implying that he was not a patriot if he did not say that on the program”. He also argued that the programme violated the NBSA’s guidelines on reporting that state that “racial and religious stereotyping should be avoided” and that “caution should be exercised in reporting content which denigrates or is likely to offend the sensitivities of any racial or religious group or that may create religious intolerance or disharmony”.

Republic TV defended itself stating that it was a question of style, or “unique way of presenting news”, and that the slogan was patriotic. The complainant shot back that his objection was to the anchor insisting on one of the participants chanting. The complainant was essentially objecting to Goswami picking on a Muslim panellist to chant the slogan. After this initial back and forth, the NBSA asked Republic TV to appear for another hearing and submit any documents it may want to in its defence. To this request, Republic TV shot back: “This as a scurrilous complaint tendered by a serial complainant on a matter which carries no merit to warrant such intense pseudo-judicial oversight.”

The NBSA took umbrage at this email and stated in its order that it “strongly objects to the language used in the mail which shows scant regard to the NBSA. The broadcaster is a member of the NBA and being its member, it is the bounden duty of the broadcaster to abide by regulations framed by the NBA”.

“To apologise for its email, the NBSA has directed Republic TV to air the following text (static) on full screen in large font size with a clearly audible voice-over (in slow speed),” the order added. 

This is the apology the TV channel has to air: “Republic TV tenders an unconditional apology for the use of the language in the email dated 10.7.2019 which carried the words ‘carries no merit to warrant such intense pseudo-judicial oversight’, with regard to NBSA’s decision dated 1.5.2019 at the time when it was called for a hearing on 10.7.2019 in respect of the complaint with regard to a programme titled ‘Congress Bharat Mata Claim’ aired by Republic TV on 12.3.2019 at 10 pm. We would like to state that it was never our intention to undermine the authority of the NBSA in any manner. We have the highest regard for the NBSA, its Chairperson and Members. Kindly accept this unconditional apology for closure of the same.”

This is not the first time a TV channel has cocked a snook at the NBSA. In 2009, India TV chairman and editor-in-chief Rajat Sharma extended a giant metaphorical middle finger to the NBSA’s members who sought to penalise his channel for plagiarism. India TV had dubbed policy analyst Farhana Ali’s interview to Reuters in Hindi and passed it off as its own. More recently, Zee News violated the NBSA’s order to apologise for malicious coverage of the scientist and poet Gauhar Raza.

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