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Text of India's news broadcasting authority castigating Republic TV for calling rally participant "anti-Indian"

The Republic TV show which "circled" A Singh 
Counterview Desk
The News Broadcasting Standards Authority (NBSA), in its order dated August 30, which is already creating ripples in the media world, has castigated Republic TV's founder-editor Arnab Goswami for using words “vulgar thug”, “pervert”, “goon”, “sexist", "hyena" and "anti-Indian" for A Singh, one of the participants at a rally organized by Gujarat Dalit rights leader Jignesh Mevani at Parliament Street, New Delhi, on January 9 this year. Following a hearing, it has asked Republic TV to apologize to Singh for the use of such words on September 7 at 9 pm.
Text of the NBSA order on the complaint dated January 29, 2018 by A Singh against Republic TV:

Complaint

l. The complaint was that in Mr. Arnab Goswami’s show on 9.1.2018 at 9 PM (repeated many times and video also put up on the website of Republic TV), while reporting about a youth rally under the caption “Jignesh Flop Show” the complainant’s image was shown with red dots around his head, targeting and calling him as “vulgar thug”, ‘pervert’, ‘goon”, “sexist", "hyena" and "anti-Indian". He alleged that the broadcaster refused to apologize in spite of his complaint.

Response from the Broadcaster

2. The response of the broadcaster was that its reporter (Ms. Shivani Gupta) along with channel’s cameraman, were at the venue of a rally on 9.1.2018 and the broadcast complained about was highlighting the unruly and uncivilized behavior of certain unidentified persons, including the complainant who harassed her at that time. The broadcaster stated that it could be clearly seen from the objected news report (video footage) that the complainant (person identified by red dots) was interfering with the reporting done by the channel’s female reporter by moving towards her in an intimidating and aggressive manner and shouting the words “jhooth bol rahi hai ye” as she was confronting another person harassing her. It was further alleged that the complainant engaged in further sloganeering which, though not clearly audible, appeared to be aimed at the female reporter. The actions of the complainant and others present at the venue of the rally presented an imminent threat and danger to reporter, necessitating her to be escorted away with police protection.
3. The broadcaster submitted that the broadcast was based on sufficient facts, cogent and credible evidence and there was nothing in the broadcast to defame, ridicule or harass the complainant. It was submitted that the broadcaster did not violate the Regulations and Guidelines of NBA/NBSA.
4. NBSA at its meeting held on 24.5.2018 had considered the complaint, the response of the broadcaster and also viewed the CD. Not being satisfied with the explanation given by the broadcaster and being prima facie satisfied that the language used against the complainant in the broadcast [such as “vulgar", thug", “pervert”, “goon", sexist” and “anti-Indian”] was inappropriate and unwarranted on the facts and circumstances, NBSA decided to call both parties for a hearing.
5. The following persons were present at the hearing on 11.7.2018:
Complainant:
Mr. A. Singh (Complainant) with his wife Ms. Pratishtha Singh
Mr. Mohit Kumar Daraad, Advocate
ARG Outlier Media Asianet News Pvt. Ltd. [Channel : Republic TV]
Mr. Abhishek Kapoor, Executive Editor
Ms. Shivani Gupta, News Editor & Anchor
Mr. Rajat Pradhan, Advocate

Submission of Complainant

6. In his submissions, the complainant stated that in the video, he was shown as saying, "Koi aapko tang nahi kar raha, aap jhooth bol rahi hain”. He stated that anyone hearing him saying “Aap ihooth bol rahi hain”, would realise that he was not behaving as a “vulgar thug”, “pervert”, “goon”, “sexist” and that by no stretch of imagination, he could be labeled as “anti-Indian” which were the descriptions used by Mr. Arnab Goswami in the broadcast while referring to him.
He pointed out that after posting the video on its website, the channel removed the red dots shown around his face, as by then, he had sent a series of emails to the channel and also complained to several authorities including NBSA. The complainant and his wife stated on seeing the broadcast, many of their relatives called expressing shock and the broadcast has brought shame and loss of reputation to the family. They demanded an apology from the channel.
Arnab Goswami on the show

Submission by Broadcaster

7. The broadcaster submitted that the channel reported news in relation to the Jignesh Mevani rally held at the Parliament Street on 9th January 2018, covered by Ms. Shivani Gupta, one of the female editors of the channel and anchor of Republic TV. While the reporter was reporting the news regarding the rally, about 10 to 12 unidentified men and the complainant surrounded the Reporter and started harassing her by making unwelcome gestures and sexually colored remarks and shouted intimidating slogans against the reporter, with the obvious intent of obstructing her from reporting. Even though the rally was being covered by several journalists of different news channels who were present at the Parliament Street, the unidentified men and the complainant singled out its reporter and subjected her to continued harassment and assault. The reporter being put in a situation wherein she had to fear for her safety and modesty due to the criminal intimidation of unidentified men and the complainant had to be escorted away by the police given the imminent danger to her. The broadcaster submitted the incident had been captured by the cameraman of Republic TV. The broadcaster being deeply concerned with the intimidating treatment meted out to its reporter by unidentified persons and the complainant, filed a complaint with the Parliament Street Police Station on 14 January 2018 through Mr. Abhishek Kapoor, Executive Editor of Republic TV, against unidentified persons (as the identity of complainant was not known at that point in time) in regard to the offences of wrongful restraint [Section 341 of the Indian Penal Code ("113C"), assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty (Section 354 IPC), sexual harassment (Section 354-11 IPC), criminal intimidation (Section 506 113(3)] and for using words, gestures or acts intended to insult the modesty of a woman. According to the broadcaster, the matter is still under investigation.
8. The broadcaster, after reiterating the substance of what was stated in their response, contended that the video footage clearly showed that the complainant had actively participated in the gathering/rally and was amongst those who intimidated/ attempted to intimidate their female reporter. According to the broadcaster, the purpose for which the complainant may have been present at the rally and the fact
whether or not he was associated with Mr. Jignesh Mewani was immaterial as the larger issue was the threats held out and the intimating behavior against its female reporter. The broadcaster submitted that in view of the behaviour of the group of men, including the complainant in harassing its reporter, it (Republic TV) decided to highlight the said issue in the broadcast by holding a debate on the same; and that in order to create public awareness, it had identified the accused persons, including the complainant, in the programme.

Consideration by NBSA

9. NBSA viewed the CD and carefully considered the arguments. The footage does not show use of any objectionable words by the complainant or any gesture which can be described as “lewd” or “threatening”. NBSA was of the view that the use of words like: “I am going to show these crude, lewd hyenas/ show the dirty faces of lewd, cheap, vulgar, sexist, pervert anti-Indian goons" by Mr. Arnab Goswami, who was anchoring the programme, while the channel focused on the face of the complainant (by marking his face by a circle of red dots) from among the persons at the rally venue who allegedly threatened/ harassed its female news reporter, Ms. Shivani Gupta, was totally unwarranted and unjustified and the same was in violation of the Broadcasting Standards.
10. The Code of Ethics and Broadcasting Standards of NBA, relating to “Impartiality and Objectivity in Reporting”, provide “... It is the responsibility of TV news channels to keep accuracy and balance as precedence over speed. If despite this, there are errors, channels should be transparent about them. Channels should also strive not to broadcast anything which is obviously defamatory or libelous..."
11. The specific Guidelines covering Reportage (vide para 4.2) requires that the content of the reporting should avoid crude, offensive or coarse language. The Guidelines on Broadcast of Potentially Defamatory Content provide: “A news anchor/journalist/presenter should not make a derogatory or judgmental statements as part of reporting or commenting” (vide Basic Guideline 5) and “As a norm, a news channel should not report -- live or recorded -- any statement that is per se derogatory or derisive”.
12. NBSA noted that the very same news report by the channel in regard to the very same rally, had also wrongly identified a news reporter of another channel as one of the perpetrators who targeted its News Editor Ms. Shivani Gupta at the Jignesh Mevani Rally. But in his case, on the very next day, the broadcaster had issued the following clarification:
“On the debate yesterday, we inadvertently circled the visual of a reporter from ABP News... while running pictures of our News Editor Shivani Gupta being targeted by individuals present at the Jignesh Mevani Rally. It was a genuine error, an oversight by our video editor, and not intentional...”
13. In view of its findings, NBSA decided that the broadcaster be directed to air a clarification as per the text to be furnished by NBSA on the date and time indicated by MESA.

Decision/Directions of NSBA

(i) The broadcaster shall, prior to the commencement of the 9 pm news on 7.9.2018, air the following text (static) on its channel (Republic TV), on full screen in large font size with a clearly audible voice-over (in slow speed) expressing regret on its channel Republic TV by stating the following:
“On the debate 'Jignesh Flop Show' aired on Republic TV on 9.1.2018 at 9 pm, the channel had inadvertently circled the visual of Mr. A. Singh, while running pictures of its News Editor Ms. Shivanl Gupta being moderated by individuals present at the Jignesh Mevani Rally. It was a genuine error; an oversight by our video editor; and not intentional. Therefore, we wish to convey our regrets for the error, which we reiterate was unintentional.”
(ii) If the broadcaster fails to do so on the date and time stipulated in Direction (i) above, the broadcaster shall air the following text (static) on its channel (Republic TV) prior to the commencement of the 9 PM news on 14.9.2018 on full screen in large font size with a clearly audible voice over (in slow speed) stating the following:
"On the debate 'Jignesh Flop Show' aired on Republic TV on 9.1.2018 at 9 PM, this channel had circled the visual of Mr. A. Singh (while running pictures) of its News Editor Ms. Shivani Gupta) as targeting and intimidating her. On a complaint by A. Singh, News Broadcasting Standards Authority has passed an order dated 30.8.2018 holding that Mr. Arnab Goswaml, who anchored the programme, was not justified in using the words ‘I am going to show these crude, lewd hyenas/show the dirty faces of of lewd, cheap, vulgar, sexist, pervert anti-Indian goons' with reference to the complainant. News Broadcasting Standards Authority further held that this channel had violated the Code of Ethics and Broadcasting Standards of NBA and the Specific Guidelines Covering Reportage and should therefore air an apology to Mr. A. Singh. Accordingly, we hereby apologise to Mr. A. Singh for wrongly referring to him as lewd, cheap, vulgar, sexist, pervert, anti-Indian goon.
(iii) The video of the said broadcast, if hosted on the website of Republic TV or Youtube, or any other links, should be removed immediately and confirmed in NBSA in writing within 7 days.
(iv) The broadcaster shall submit a CD containing the telecast with particulars of the date and time of the telecast, within one week of the telecast, as proof of compliance. After such CD is submitted by the broadcaster, the matter will be closed.
(v) NBA shall (a) send a copy of this Order to the complainant and the broadcaster; (b) circulate this Order to all Members, Editors & Legal Heads of NBA, (c) host this Order on its website and include it in its next Annual Report, and (d) release the Order to the media.
Any finding or observation by NBSA in this order is only in the context of examination as to whether there was any violation of Broadcasting Standards and Guidelines. Neither this order, nor the regret to be telecast by the broadcaster in pursuance of this order, shall be construed as an admission by the broadcaster of any wrong doing giving rise to a civil or criminal liability.
Justice R.V. Raveendran (Retd)
Chairperson

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