Prime TV found in breach of broadcasting content on Burhan Wani


Popular British Pakistani channel, Prime TV has been found in breach of content relating to Burhan Wani in July 2017.

Ofcom received a complaint that, during a broadcast of a current affairs programme, a social media campaign was repeatedly promoted to commemorate the first anniversary of the death of the Hizbul Mujahideen military leader Burhan Wani. The complainant expressed concern that the campaign was supporting a terrorist leader and encouraging terrorism in Indian administered Kashmir.

Material relating to the anniversary of the death of Burhan Wani and promoting the social media campaign #IAmWani was endorsed by and broadcast on the Pakistani news service Express TV and re-broadcast on Prime TV (licence holder, Express TV). The material was broadcast in a period lasting approximately 90 minutes across a series of items consisting of: rolling text and images; promotional clips; and a short news report (within the news headlines) to commemorate the first anniversary of Burhan Wani’s death.

After close communication with Ofcom, Prime TV Express TV acknowledged that it “may have breached” the Code. It explained that the vast majority of its programming was supplied by the Express TV service in Pakistan via two direct feeds, one for the Express TV Pakistani news service, and one for the Express TV Pakistani entertainment services. The Licensee said that these feeds were reviewed before transmission to ensure the material was compliant with the Code. It added that in this case the material was not a simultaneous retransmission of the Pakistani Express TV news service and there was a time delay of 60 minutes to allow for compliance checks.

The Licensee said that the anniversary of Burhan Wani’s death was a major event in Pakistan and was covered by many other Pakistani news channels. However, Express TV apologised to viewers and stated that, with “the benefit of hindsight”, it “should have edited out much of the coverage of the anniversary of the death of Mr Burhan Wani”, adding that this was a “rare oversight”.

In conclusion, Express TV said that measures had now been put in place to ensure that any news items mentioning the situation in Kashmir would be “carefully scrutinised” and references edited out if there is likely to be a breach of any of Ofcom’s rules.

Ofcom considered that the content was not consistent with generally accepted standards in the UK and the likely expectation of UK viewers for Ofcom licensed channels. Ofcom was therefore of the view that there were no contextual factors to justify the broadcast of this material and our Decision is that Rule 2.3 was breached.

Given that the nature of the material glorified Burhan Wani, the leader of a proscribed terrorist group advocating militant means to end Indian administration in Kashmir, as a martyr, Ofcom also considered whether it engaged Rule 3.1 and was likely to encourage or incite the commission of crime or to lead to disorder.

In this case Ofcom considered that, taken together in the context of encouraging viewers to support a social media campaign to commemorate the anniversary of the death of Burhan Wani, the material did not amount to a direct or indirect call to action likely to incite crime or disorder and therefore Ofcom’s decision is that Rule 3.1 was not breached. It was found in breach of Rule 2.3.

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