UK media regulator has imposed a fine of £65,000 on Peace TV Urdu for a broadcast, which could be perceived as “hatred” to the Jewish community.
The licencee, Club TV, which runs the the Peace TV service, has been told that it failed to provide adequate protection for viewers, after it aired potentially offensive and harmful content on the channel between 12th and 13th September 2015 at 14:00.
The Breach Decision noted that the Programmes, broadcast in Urdu, were recordings of public lectures given by the Islamic scholar Dr Israr Ahmad, who died in April 2010. Both these lectures lasted approximately 45 minutes and discussed the role and actions of Jewish people through history from c.1500 BC to the present day. In summary, the Programmes included numerous highly critical references to Jewish people. Ofcom considered Israr Ahmad repeatedly portrayed Jewish people as a homogenous group and in overwhelmingly negative and stereotypical terms.
In Ofcom’s view, Israr Ahmad’s comments had the potential to be interpreted as spreading anti-Semitism i.e. his comments could be a form of hate speech. In this context we were mindful of the Council of Europe’s definition of ‘hate speech’, as follows: “all forms of expression which spread, incite, promote or justify racial hatred, xenophobia, anti-Semitism or other forms of hatred based on intolerance, including: intolerance expressed by aggressive nationalism and ethnocentrism, discrimination and hostility against minorities, migrants and people of immigrant origin”. Ofcom considered that the content taken as a whole had the potential to cause offence to viewers. In our view the content also had the potential to cause harm by portraying Jewish people in highly negative terms.
A Peace TV spokesman said. “We are totally committed to the message of religious understanding and tolerance but on this occasion regrettably this programme slipped through the compliance check for which we apologise unreservedly. Our broadcasts are intended to improve harmony and we pride ourselves on a track record of providing balanced, informative content.
“This programme was withdrawn in September 2015 as soon as the issue was identified. It was a mistake and our compliance system has been strengthened to ensure nothing like this happens again.”
The fine of £65,000 will be paid by Club TV Limited to HM Paymaster General.