The National Broadcasting and Digital Standards Authority has instructed Times Now to take down two controversial debates on the February 2020 Delhi riots from their channel and YouTube page. The authority observed that they were not conducted in an “impartial and objective manner”.
These discussions were moderated by anchors Rahul Shivshankar and Padmaja Joshi. The NBDSA declared that the anchors had “violated the Fundamental Principles as enumerated in the Code of Ethics and Broadcasting Standards and various Guidelines issued by NBDSA,” .
The action came in response to an audience complaint by one Utkarsh Mishra citing two episodes of India Upfront on September 14, 2020 and September 23, 2020.
The channel has been asked to “send a written confirmation of compliance of the order within seven days”, the .
The complainant alleged that Shivshankar not only made false claims about a supposed “secret leftists’ meeting,” but that the debates also tried to hide judicial facts that were reported on other channels, especially those that questioned the during the riots.
Mishra said, “the channel only reported unverified allegations of the Delhi Police under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. The channel’s internal security editor chose to valorise the Delhi Police’s role in the entire matter even though it has ”
The channel hindered the “right of the viewer to have a fact-based view on the matter,” the order quotes Mishra’s complaint, and this “amounted to a sustained campaign to challenge a position, without intimating to the viewers what that position is in its entirety or allowing panellists to explain the same”.
Further, it claimed Joshi made attempts to discredit anti-CAA protesters and ran “a media trial to hinder one side of a controversial issue”.
Times Now, however, denied all the charges. “…Complainant has been making unnecessary and frivolous complaints repeatedly against the same anchors/journalists…in a whimsical manner,” the channel said. It also asked if the complaints were motivated, with a secret agenda against the anchors. The NBDSA did not accept the channel’s argument and issued the notice.