News Broadcasting Standards Authority (NBSA), in an significant order settling a complaint made by Popular Front of India, has issued stern warning to four news channels, Republic TV, Times Now, India Today and Aaj Tak for publishing false news about the organization. The order has also directed the channels to remove concerned news items from their websites, YouTube and other links, observing that the broadcasters, by carrying false information as news, violated sections of Code of Ethics and Broadcasting Standards and Guidelines, Specific Guidelines Governing Reportage and Specific Guidelines for Reporting Court Proceedings.
Retired Justice R V Raveendran in his order has directed the News Broadcasters Association to publish the order on its website and in its annual report, to send copies of the order to the channels, the legal heads of NBA, editors and other members and also to release to media. Earlier, Popular Front had complained to NBSA that media trials by various media organisations were deliberately aimed at misleading the audiences and bringing disrepute to the organisation, which is working within the ambit of law and constitution.
NBSA considered the complaint submitted by Popular Front of India General Secretary M Mohammad Ali Jinnah and National Women’s Front president AS Zainaba on 5 December regarding the news items broadcast by India Today and Aaj Tak. The complaint was against a sting operation about alleged conversion factory in Kerala. Mr. Mohamed Ali Jinnah had complained that channels’ airing of an interview with a Calicut based journalist, falsely portraying him as a founder member of Popular Front was done with an intention to malign the organization. After examining the records submitted by each party, the Hon’ble Judge made it clear that the Channels’ use of descriptions like “Love Jihad Ka Zaaher”, “Desh Drohi” in the absence such findings from a court or competent authorities bordered on the violation of NBSA Code of ethics.
Popular Front had also filed complaints to NBSA against the programme broadcast by Times Now on October 7 and November 5, 2017 with hash tag “BanPFI” and the Republic TV program broadcast on February 7, 2018 with the hash tag “BanPFI”. Disagreeing with Times Now and Republic TV’s coverage, NBSA found that there is only charge-sheet and no finding by any tribunal that claims Popular Front is an incubator of hate or is a hate group nor had government declared it as a terrorist organisation or an organisation indulging in unlawful activities. “NBSA is therefore of the view that the broadcaster had violated the NBSA/NBA guidelines relating to the need of maintaining neutrality, impartiality and fairness and reporting of matters which are subjudice or under investigation”, the report added.
NBSA warned the broadcasters to exercise more care and caution while reporting about matters pending trial/investigation and in using objectionable hash tags in regard to such reports which may give an impression that broadcaster is indulging in media trial/ prejudice against the person/organisation being reported upon. NBSA has also directed the Times Now that the video of the said programme if hosted on Times Now website, YouTube or any other website or any other link should be removed immediately and same should be confirmed to NBSA. Besides, it has asked India Today group to submit complete evidence pertaining to its sting operation that alleged the PFI of ‘forceful conversions’.
Popular Front of India Central Secretariat has welcomed the warnings issued by News Broadcasting Standards Authority to news channels Republic TV, Times Now, India Today and Aaj Tak in the complaints filed against defaming the organisation. The order is a blow to the kind of unethical and highly prejudiced sort of propaganda carried out in India by these T V channels against marginalised and minority classes and their movements. The Central Secretariat expressed hope that these channels will comply with the orders issued by NBSA.