Republic Bharat fined £20,000 for Ofcom breach in UK

Republic Bharat
Republic Bharat

Ofcom has imposed a £20,000 financial penalty on Worldview Media Network Limited, which operates Republic Bharat in the UK for broadcasting a serious rule.

The channel, which broadcasts rolling news and current affairs to the Hindi speaking community in the UK, aired an offensive episode of ‘Poochta Hai Bharat’ live on 6th September 2019 at 14:26. Ofcom ruled that the show contained uncontextualised and highly offensive hate speech against Pakistani people.

The broadcaster said that the programme was based on “a legitimate story covering Pakistan’s involvement in terror activities backed by recent events and statements from leading Pakistani public figures at a time when India was working to become a Space power”. It said that purpose of the debate was “to showcase how India has moved forward, while Pakistan in the same period has failed to develop at the same pace and how terror groups had been allowed to operate in [Pakistan]”. It added that this was an “emotionally charged” discussion and that the content was based on evidence that “Pakistan was trying to infiltrate terrorists, threaten Indian sovereignty and destabilize India”. Worldview Media argued that the programme “did not promote terrorism or hatred and it certainly
did not promote or justify hatred in any way”.

It argued that use of the word “Paki” during the programme was not intended as an
insult but as a “casual reference to the nationality of Pakistan”. It cited several sources, included a tweet from the Chief of Awami Muslim league and several articles by Pakistani media outlets, which it said provided examples of the common use of the word “Paki” as an inoffensive term and that the use of the term had been reclaimed by Pakistani people.

Ofcom considered that there were insufficient contextual factors to justify the hate speech included in this programme. Therefore, it broke Rule 3.2 of the broadcasting code, which warranted the imposition of statutory sanctions.

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