Ofcom has rapped DM Digital again for two further breaches at the end of last year.
In the first instant, a viewer complained about statements made during the show ‘Rehmatul Lil Alameen’ in October that it was acceptable to murder any person thought to have shown disrespect to the Prophet Mohammed, and that the founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community was an acceptable target for murder.
DM Digital made clear that it did not condone the comments made within the programme in question. The Licensee stated that the Islamic scholar featured in the programme did not work for DM Digital, but was a lawyer in Pakistan. In this programme the scholar was commenting on his interpretation of the law in Pakistan in relation to those who are alleged to have profaned the character of the Holy Prophet of Islam [Mohammed]. In this case, the Islamic scholar was discussing the case of Malik Mumtaz Qadri who has been sentenced to death by the Court in Pakistan for killing a governor [Salmaan Taseer] in Pakistan.
Ofcom noted DM Digital’s apology, and the fact that the Licensee said it did not condone the comments made in the live broadcast and that no DM Digital presenter was involved in the broadcast. Ofcom also noted the Licensee?s submission that the lecture was transmitted in a timeslot which regularly includes contributions from moderate and liberal scholars and that text was put across the screen after the programme clarifying that DM Digital does not assist in providing or collecting support for this individual or his comments. However, the Licensee had allowed the material to be broadcast uninterrupted and had provided no evidence to Ofcom to show that it had any proper procedures or systems in place for monitoring live content to ensure compliance with the Code or to take appropriate action when required.
In light of all of the above considerations, Ofcom reached the view that the DM Digital service had included material likely to encourage or to incite the commission of crime or to lead to disorder. Accordingly, Ofcom has found the Licensee in breach of Rule 3.1 of the Code.
The breach of Rule 3.1 in this case is regarded by Ofcom as a serious breach of the Code. This is because Ofcom views any incident where a licensee has allowed content to be broadcast that is likely to encourage or incite the commission of crime or to lead to disorder as a significant contravention of the Code.
Furthermore, three viewers alerted Ofcom about its coverage of the Pakistan Overseas Alliance Forum in November and December, stating that they were unbalanced and were not duly impartial.
Ofcom said it was important that broadcasters maintain due impartiality on matters of major political controversy and major matters relating to current public policy. It is also crucial that people providing a licensed service, and so who have editorial responsibility for that service, do not use it as a platform to criticise the policies and actions of political parties and governments.
In both cases, DM Digital has come in breach of Rules 5.4 and 5.5, which Ofcom is also considering for the imposition of a statutory sanction. In view of the seriousness of the breaches in the present case, DM Digital is put on notice that the contraventions of Rules 5.4 and 5.5 of the Code are being considered by Ofcom for the imposition of a statutory sanction.