Ofcom raps four UK Urdu news channels


Ofcom has rapped four UK Urdu news channels over its coverage of the UK elections in May.

The four channels in hot water were Geo News, SAMAA TV, ARY News and Dunya News. All four ran news items relating to the UK elections despite Ofcom prohibiting such broadcast when polls open at 07:00 on election day. Rule 6.4 requires that discussion and analysis of election issues must finish when the polls open. The purpose of this rule is to ensure that broadcast coverage on the day of an election does not directly affect voters�۪ decisions.

Geo News
Broadcast at 08:00 & 14:00
on Thursday 7th May

Geo TV explained that the breaches were primarily the result of its ���UK Editorial team working on the news�۝ being ���replaced by [its] Pakistan News Team as the UK Editorial team had taken the shift off due to a tiring day and night on 6 May 2015�۝. The Licensee said that although its Pakistan News Team had been ���briefed on the Ofcom codes�۝ it was ���primarily looking after the content on GEO News in Pakistan�۝. Geo TV said that the Head of its UK News Desk had ���accepted that he made an error�۝.

Broadcast at 14:30
on Thursday 7th May

SAMAA TV said that it ���fell short in editing the footage as [the] live news bulletin was coming from Pakistan�۝ and accepted that the ���footage should not have gone on air unedited in the UK�۝.

ARY News
Broadcast at 11:10 & 14:05
on Thursday 7th May

ARY News apologised and accepted that the broadcast at 11:10 ���went beyond the limits permitted on polling day�۝.

Dunya News
Broadcast at 17:30
on Thursday 7th May

Dunya News apologised for the mistake. It said it had held ���detailed discussions with the Head of Programmes to investigate why the report was produced without verifying the specific election reporting rules�۝. As a result of these discussions, and to avoid a recurrence of the issue, the Licensee said that it had introduced a ���strict�۝ procedure that ���no election coverage can be broadcast without prior review and approval from [its] Managing Director�۝. The Licensee also said that ���the Production team will be subject to specific election reporting training by an external consultant�۝.

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