Ofcom has upheld a complaint made by Dr Parvinder Singh Garcha, who represented the Baaj Group in a London Gurdwara election programme.
The programme, which aired in September 2014 included a live debate in advance of an election for a new committee to run the Gurdwara Sri Guru Singh Sabha in Southall, west London. The debate was between two people representing the Baaj Group (then the incumbent group) and two representing the Shayr Group (which went on to win the election) and was moderated by the programme۪s presenter. One of the key issues discussed during the debate concerned the placing of legless chairs۪ (i.e. chairs that have a seat and back support but no legs) in a prayer room in the Gurdwara and which group, Baaj or Shayr, was running the Gurdwara when this incident occurred. At the end of the debate two videos were shown. Both included footage of the legless chairs the first claimed that the chairs had been placed in the Gurdwara when the Shayr Group was in charge and the second that this had happened when the Baaj Group was in control. The second video also included the claim that money had been stolen from a donation box in the Gurdwara during a period when the Baaj Group was in control.
Ofcom noted that the decision to include the second video was made by the presenter during the course of the programme and that Dr Garcha said that he had left the studio before at the end of the debate (i.e. before the video in question was shown). The decision to include the second video at the end of the programme was an editorial matter for the programme makers. However, in Ofcom’s view, it is reasonable to expect that before making such a decision, a broadcaster would be familiar with the content of any material it planned to broadcast, even if the decision to include the material was made at the last minute or during the course of the relevant programme. In addition, we noted that it is the responsibility of the broadcaster (in this case, a responsibility, which Sangat TV has explained was delegated to the presenter of the programme) to ensure that the Code is adhered to by taking measures to
Taking all of the factors set out above into account, Ofcom considered that the Baaj Group was treated unfairly in this respect in the programme as broadcast.