The News Broadcasting and Digital Standards Authority has pulled up Times Now and News Nation for programmes that violated ethics and guidelines, and asked the channels to remove these from all platforms within seven days of separate orders dated November 13.
While Times Now was reprimanded for one of its programmes being “devoid of objectivity”, News Nation was directed to “take remedial actions/measures against anchors who fail to remain neutral and impartial during broadcasts”.
Complaints against the channels were filed by NGO Citizens for Justice and Peace last year, on April 6 and November 12, respectively. While Times Now had held a discussion on activists’ presence at the women-led sit-in at Shaheen Bagh, News Nation had telecast a debate on what it called a “conversion jihad”.
Times Now’s YouTube channel still has the controversial . So does .
[Complaint against News Nation's (@NewsNationTV) programme âConversion Jihadâ]— Live Law (@LiveLawIndia) November 25, 2021
NBDSA Order: "There was a need for introspection on part of broadcaster & it should take remedial actions against anchors who fail to remain neutral & impartial during broadcasts.@DChaurasia2312 pic.twitter.com/Ufp4YWYlYL
The orders stated that these programmes violated fundamental principles as enumerated in the code of ethics and broadcasting standards and various guidelines and advisories issued by NBDSA.
Observing that the Times Now programme on March 9, 2020 “was devoid of objectivity” and selective reporting had been indulged in to “create a particular narrative”, the NBDSA to the news channel, saying that an anchor “must avoid pushing any agenda during the debate”.
The authority said “the programme referred to in the complaint was devoid of objectivity”, and the way to maintain objectivity was to ensure that when an anchor conducts a debate, they only arrive at a conclusion at the end of a programme and it should be based on the discussions held among panelists.
The NBDSA further observed that Times Now had conducted a 37-minute debate on the mere presence of CJP secretary and activist Teesta Setalvad at Shaheen Bagh and had selectively used the contents of her statement when she visited the protest site to create a particular narrative.
“In this context, using bold headlines and attributing her to be ‘Modi baiter’ seems out of context and doesn’t appear to be an objective assessment of her speech, lacks neutrality and accuracy and also violates guidelines which require that facts should be clearly distinguishable from, and not be mixed up with, opinion, analysis and comment.”
For News Nation, NBDSA observed that certain statements made by the anchor, and captions such as “Memchand zinda hai jamaat sharminda hai”, “500 Hindu kaise banaye Muslim?” and “Kya Mewat Pakistan ban gaya?”, violated the regulations, principles and guidelines during the show broadcast on November 6, 2020.
The authority noted that News Nation had, in previous hearings, submitted that they would strictly adhere to the code of ethics and guidelines and take corrective action. In view of this, the NBDSA stated that there was need for “introspection” on part of the broadcaster.
“The broadcaster is warned that in future if such programmes are telecast which violate the Code of Ethics and Guidelines, NBDSA will take suitable action against the broadcaster.”
The complaints and response
CJP filed a complaint against Times Now on November 12, alleging that the channel was running a smear campaign with the clear intention of maligning the reputation and image of Teesta Setalvad.
As per the complaint, the channel unapologetically made false allegations such as “she deputed people to talk to protestors; the incident amounts to contempt of court”. The journalist also made “utterly baseless” claims such as “Teesta ‘tuition’ scuttles talks, referring to the mediation proceedings that took place in Shaheen Bagh with Supreme Court appointed mediators”, it said.
Times Now, in response, said that since Setalvad is a public figure, she cannot afford to be so “thin-skinned”. It was further stated that no derogatory remarks were made in the news reports and that the debate must be seen as a whole. Referring to the usage of the phrase “Modi baiter”, the channel said that the term cannot be labelled as defamatory or derogatory.
Additionally, in a November 19 , NBDSA had noted that two Times Now debates pertaining to the Delhi riots were , and designed to promote a narrative.
The complaint against News Nation stated that the channel’s anchor Deepak Chaurasia had called Maulana Syed ul Qadri, forced him to tender an apology on behalf of the entire Muslim community, and called him a “jhoot ki factory” (factory of lies), Live Law reported.
The complaint cited instances of how the host encouraged hate speech against Muslims by calling anti-minority “propagandists”, and that in order to respect the diverse religions and composite cultures of India, it was essential to keep a check on the unverified claims and hate propaganda against Muslims.
While News Nation refused to take accountability for the words used by its panelists, it apologised for any statements that “hurt anybody at any level”. “The subject show/report at no point of time delved into any kind of defamation nor targeted a particular community or religious group as alleged.”
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