MATV has been pulled up by Ofcom after it received a complaint by Amrik Singh Sahota over a discussion show it aired in January 2018.
The programme discussed a demonstration which had taken place outside the Indian Embassy in London on 26th January 2018. During the programme, allegations were made about the complainant, Mr Sahota, and his role in the demonstration.
Mr Sahota complained that he was treated unjustly or unfairly in the programme as broadcast because it included a number of false statements which were intended to “unfairly defame” him. In particular:
• That he took money from a UK Parliamentarian, Lord Nazir Ahmed, to fund his campaigning work for the Khalistan cause;
• That he was expelled from Guru Nanak Gurdwara, Smethwick;
• That his business was failing and that he was taking money off others; and
• That he spread “hatred amongst communities”, with the object of causing arguments and violence
Mr Sahota said that he was a person with good standing in the Sikh community, which he would not allow to be discredited by the “false and malicious” allegations.
He also complained that he was not given an appropriate and timely opportunity to respond to the above allegations being made in the programme.
In response, MATV said that it failed to understand how Mr Sahota had assumed that he was the one who was “blamed” and “singled out” as his name was never mentioned during the programme. The broadcaster said that if Mr Sahota was a “separatist”, then it had no knowledge of it and said: “where is the question of his abuse?” It said that it was for Mr Sahota to prove that he had been “abused personally”.
MATV also said that if Mr Sahota “says he was not removed from Smethwick Gurudwara” then “why he is worried about this issue”. It said that only someone who had “…been removed should be worried and making complaint”. MATV said that it did not consider that there was “solid substance” to Mr Sahota’s complaint.
Ofcom’s role is to consider whether the broadcaster took reasonable care not to present, disregard or omit material facts in a way that resulted in unfairness to the Mr Sahota. Whether a broadcaster has taken reasonable care to present material facts in a way that is not unfair to an individual or organisation will depend on all the particular facts and circumstances of the case including, for example, the seriousness of any allegations and the context within which they were presented in the programme. Therefore, Ofcom began by considering whether the matters complained of had the potential to materially and adversely affect viewers’ opinions of the Mr Sahota in a way that was unfair.
Ofcom upheld Mr Sahota’s complaint of unjust or unfair treatment in the programme as broadcast should be upheld.