Television

Arnab's 'The Newshour' lands Times Now in soup in UK

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MUMBAI: United Kingdom broadcast regulator Ofcom has studied several episodes of Times Now’s nightly show ‘The Newshour’ from last summer, which was broadcast during the rising tensions between India and Pakistan over Kashmir.

At the time of Ofcom’s investigation between August and September 2016, this programme was presented by the then Times Now editor Arnab Goswami. Each edition typically featured two debates, each of approximately an hour’s duration. The show was telecast live from India at 16:30 each weekday, and then repeated at 21:00 in UK. Goswami was accused of being biased towards India in the debates.

In Breach: The Newshour

According to the Ofcom newsletter dated 24 April, 2017:

“Don’t brush aside the role of Pakistan in fermenting the trouble in Kashmir. Let us accept it. Let us acknowledge it. Let us not brush it aside”. We could not identify in this programme any content that could reasonably be described as reflecting the viewpoint of the Pakistani Government, or otherwise rebutting the criticisms being made of it. Times Global provided evidence that it had reflected viewpoints representing the Pakistani Government in further editions of The Newshour presented by Arnab Goswami. We also received complaints about the editions of The Newshour broadcast on 19 and 26 September 2016, which featured only contributors from India, but also dealt with India’s on-going relationship with Pakistan.

Ofcom viewed the 18 additional episodes of The Newshour broadcast between 3 August 2016 and 30 September 2016. All these programmes dealt with: the on-going tensions between India and Pakistan during August and September 2016; the Pakistani Government’s policy towards Kashmir; and alleged terrorist activities towards India. However, the programmes also featured highly critical discussion about the Pakistani Government’s policies and actions in other areas such as its treatment of the separatist movement in the Pakistani province of Balochistan.

Further, the 16 programmes cited by the Licensee each included three or four contributors that could reasonably be described as supporting the Pakistani Government or Pakistan more generally. These contributors included: Pakistani political analysts and commentators; retired Pakistani diplomats; retired senior Pakistani armed forces; Pakistani journalists; and both current and retired Pakistani politicians.

Ofcom’s concern in this case was not whether the Licensee had reflected a range of viewpoints, but the manner in which those viewpoints were dealt with by the presenter, Arnab Goswami. We lay out below examples of how Arnab Goswami dealt with different contributors:

1 August 2016

In this programme there was a debate about the march to the Wagah border crossing featuring the Pakistani militants, Syed Sallahudin and Hafiz Saeed. There was the following exchange between Arnab Goswami (“AG”) and Mufti Nasir-ul-Islam (“MNI”). Arnab Goswami referred to two contributors in the programme who were described as being critical of Pakistan, G.D. Bakshi and Nalin Kohl (“NK”), the latter who was invited to speak during this exchange. Arnab Goswami also referred to Navid Hamid, a contributor who was described as being an apologist for Pakistan:

AG: “Essentially you are down playing what happened in Wagah, the role of Hafiz Saeed, Sayeed Salahudeen, and the Jamaat-e-Islami because these people are saying ‘we will hoist the Pakistani flag in Kashmir’. And I want to know from Mufti Nasir-ul-Islam, whether he agrees with such a statement. When these people say they, ‘we will hoist the Pakistani flag in Kashmir’. I want him to tell me whether he feels that’s a home grown problem. G.D. Bakshi, I will come back [to you] but let Mufti Nasir-ul-Islam reply to me please”.

MNI: “Mr Arnab Goswami, do you, do you hear me?”

AG: “I’m hearing you loud and clear”.

MNI: “Ok. Let me begin by paying my tribute to Burhan Wami?–”

AG: “Eh listen–”.

MNI: “–and 70 others who were martyred”.

AG: “No, no, no. Here you see. I will not, no, no, no one second, Mufti Nasir-ul-Islam, Mufti Nasir-ul-Islam. You, no, no, no, Mufti Nasir-ul-Islam you don’t have to say things to provoke. I can tell you. I can, no, no, no, one second I will not allow you. Nalin Kohli’s on the debate!”

NK: “Any innocent person is not somebody who can be idolised. Next you’ll be saying we should pay tribute to Osama Bin Laden. Another time he’s going to say we should pay tribute to somebody else. A terrorist is a terrorist! It doesn’t matter those, those who want [continues to talk over MNI’s attempts to talk] to participate in democracy and

get the aspirations each one is welcome. Those who give up their weapons are

welcome but all these tributes of terrorist please not on any show–”.

For example, in the programme broadcast on 4 August 2016, Dr Farid Ahmed Malik of the Tahreek-eInsaaf party took part; and in the programme broadcast on 8 August 2016, Rana Afzai Khan, a member of Pakistan’s National Assembly for the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz), and Federal Parliamentary Secretary for Finance, Revenue, Economic Affairs, Statistics and Privatization.

AG: “[Interrupts and talks loudly over MNI and NK] The Indian state, the Indian state, also Nalin Kohli, as far as Mufti Nasir-ul-Islam is concerned, as far as Mufti Nasir-ul-Islam concerned, he is also a Pakistan apologist, Mufti Nasir-ul-Islam, Mufti Nasir-ul-Islam takes security, the Mufti, Mufti, takes security. The question is and the question goes

to Navid Hamid. The question is Navid Hamid of the All Indian Muslim Majlis-eMushawarat, I’m coming to you, and Mufti Nasir ul-Islam, just a quick reminder to you that as of this minute, as of this second, you are taking security funded by the Indian taxpayer. Never forget that OK.

[MNI tries to talk but AG talks over him] Never forget

that, so at least have a sense of loyalty. Don’t, I had to expose you today because of your duplicity, because of your hypocrisy, your opportunism. Does that not reveal something? Now you know something [talking over Mufti Nasir-ul-Islam] you have no, you are beholden to the Pakistanis and I will not allow this channel to become an instrument for your venom so I’ll cut you off for a while and when you behave yourself I’ll bring you back. Neither for your venom or your political aspirations. You say you are a mufti, your political aspirations [MNI tries to talk] and I don’t know why you are loyal to Pakistan”.

MNI: “Ok, I don’t want to be a part of this–”.

AG: “You don’t have the guts to answer my question so you are walking out like a typical opportunist [MNI tries to talk and AG talks over him] Mufti Nasir-ul-Islam calm down. Mufti Nasir-ul-Islam calm down. If it was a choice between having you on the show and letting you. Letting you use The Newshour for your duplicitous venom. I would be much happier asking you. I would be much happier, Mufti Nasir-ul-Islam, if you are on Newshour you must behave yourself and show the least amount of loyalty that someone who takes security from the Indian taxpayer should show. or if you don’t want to show that I have no problems if you walk out the programme. I have no problems if you walk out the programme. It doesn’t matter to me. I’m happy to ask you to leave the programme Mufti Nasir-ul-Islam. Mufti Nasir-ul-Islam you are obviously beholden to the Pakistanis. You can continue your act. I think you’ve revealed yourself.[raises voice and starts shouting] And the fact is Mufti Nasir-ul-Islam, don’t you wag your finger at me Mufti Nasir-ul-Islam. I have decently debated with you for the last

ten minutes but the fact of the matter is there has been a terror group called the Lashkar-e-Taiba7 and Hizbul Mujahideen which carried out a march with Jamaat-eIslami.But you for the opportunist that you are cannot speak against the LET [i.e. Lashkar-e-Taiba] you are scared of them or in league with them. So drink that water and behave yourself. calm down. Calm down, I’m not going to waste my time. Look at Mufti Nasir-ul-Islam unable to control his loyalties. Has to show his real loyalty to Pakistan. Absolutely unable to control. Has to show his loyalty to Pakistan at every

single opportunity. I’m so glad television being a transparent medium. Let this medium

expose the real loyalties of these people one by one”.

4 August 2016

In this programme, there was a debate discussing whether the Pakistani Government had “hit an all-time diplomatic low”. There was the following exchange between Arnab Goswami (“AG”) and the Pakistani barrister Zahid Saheed (“ZS”) about perceptions of the level of media coverage about the visit by the Indian Home Minister of Rajnath Singh to Pakistan:

AG: “…the only word I have for this is childish with a capital ‘C’. So childishly you try to ensure that the Indian media can’t cover Rajnath Singh. What did you think? We are not going to get access to what he says, for your kind information, I have with me the full details of what Rajnath Singh has said. I can understand that the Pakistanis don’t want to allow Rajnath Singh’s words to be heard on Pakistan television because you’re damn scared, that is if Rajnath Singh’s truth is heard by the people of Pakistan, then they start asking you questions. I hope they will. But, you don’t allow us to report on our minister. This is childish, this amateurish, this unacceptable, this is just absolutely ridiculous and I want an explanation, on behalf of every Indian citizen, an answer from Pakistani panellists on why on earth this happened, what were you trying to do? What were you scared of? Were you scared that Rajnath walked into your territory and your

Ofcom’s concern in this case was not whether the Licensee had reflected a range of viewpoints, but the manner in which those viewpoints were dealt with by the presenter, Arnab Goswami. We lay out below examples of how Arnab Goswami dealt with different

contributors:

1 August 2016

In this programme there was a debate about the march to the Wagah border crossing featuring the Pakistani militants, Syed Sallahudin and Hafiz Saeed. There was the following exchange between Arnab Goswami (“AG”) and Mufti Nasir-ul-Islam (“MNI”). Arnab Goswami referred to two contributors in the programme who were described as being critical of Pakistan, G.D. Bakshi and Nalin Kohl (“NK”), the latter who was invited to speak during this exchange. Arnab Goswami also referred to Navid Hamid, a contributor who was described as being an apologist for Pakistan:

AG: “Essentially you are down playing what happened in Wagah, the role of Hafiz Saeed, Sayeed Salahudeen, and the Jamaat-e-Islami because these people are saying ‘we will hoist the Pakistani flag in Kashmir’. And I want to know from Mufti Nasir-ul-Islam, whether he agrees with such a statement. When these people say they, ‘we will hoist the Pakistani flag in Kashmir’. I want him to tell me whether he feels that’s a home grown problem. G.D. Bakshi, I will come back [to you] but let Mufti Nasir-ul-Islam reply

to me please”.

MNI: “Mr Arnab Goswami, do you, do you hear me?”

AG: “I’m hearing you loud and clear”.

MNI: “Ok. Let me begin by paying my tribute to Burhan Wami?–”

AG: “Eh listen–”.

MNI: “–and 70 others who were martyred”.

AG: “No, no, no. Here you see. I will not, no, no, no one second, Mufti Nasir-ul-Islam, Mufti Nasir-ul-Islam. You, no, no, no, Mufti Nasir-ul-Islam you don’t have to say things to provoke. I can tell you. I can, no, no, no, one second I will not allow you. Nalin Kohli’s on the debate!”

NK: “Any innocent person is not somebody who can be idolised. Next you’ll be saying we should pay tribute to Osama Bin Laden. Another time he’s going to say we should pay tribute to somebody else. A terrorist is a terrorist! It doesn’t matter those, those who want [continues to talk over MNI’s attempts to talk] to participate in democracy and

get the aspirations each one is welcome. Those who give up their weapons are

welcome but all these tributes of terrorist please not on any show–”.

For example, in the programme broadcast on 4 August 2016, Dr Farid Ahmed Malik of the Tahreek-eInsaaf party took part; and in the programme broadcast on 8 August 2016, Rana Afzai Khan, a member of Pakistan’s National Assembly for the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz), and Federal Parliamentary Secretary for Finance, Revenue, Economic Affairs, Statistics and Privatization.



AG: “[Interrupts and talks loudly over MNI and NK] The Indian state, the Indian state, also Nalin Kohli, as far as Mufti Nasir-ul-Islam is concerned, as far as Mufti Nasir-ul-Islam concerned, he is also a Pakistan apologist, Mufti Nasir-ul-Islam, Mufti Nasir-ul-Islam takes security, the Mufti, Mufti, takes security. The question is and the question goes

to Navid Hamid. The question is Navid Hamid of the All Indian Muslim Majlis-eMushawarat, I’m coming to you, and Mufti Nasir-ul-Islam, just a quick reminder to you that as of this minute, as of this second, you are taking security funded by the Indian taxpayer. Never forget that OK.

[MNI tries to talk but AG talks over him] Never forget that, so at least have a sense of loyalty. Don’t, I had to expose you today because of your duplicity, because of your hypocrisy, your opportunism. Does that not reveal something? Now you know something [talking over Mufti Nasir-ul-Islam] you have no, you are beholden to the Pakistanis and I will not allow this channel to become an instrument for your venom so I’ll cut you off for a while and when you behave yourself I’ll bring you back. Neither for your venom or your political aspirations. You say you are a mufti, your political aspirations [MNI tries to talk] and I don’t know why you are loyal to Pakistan”.

MNI: “Ok, I don’t want to be a part of this–”.

AG: “You don’t have the guts to answer my question so you are walking out like a typical opportunist [MNI tries to talk and AG talks over him] Mufti Nasir-ul-Islam calm down. Mufti Nasir-ul-Islam calm down. If it was a choice between having you on the show and letting you. Letting you use The Newshour for your duplicitous venom. I would be

much happier asking you. I would be much happier, Mufti Nasir-ul-Islam, if you are on Newshour you must behave yourself and show the least amount of loyalty that someone who takes security from the Indian taxpayer should show. or if you don’t want to show that I have no problems if you walk out the programme. I have no problems if you walk out the programme. It doesn’t matter to me. I’m happy to ask you to leave the programme Mufti Nasir-ul-Islam. Mufti Nasir-ul-Islam you are obviously beholden to the Pakistanis. You can continue your act. I think you’ve revealed yourself.

[raises voice and starts shouting] And the fact is Mufti Nasir-ul-Islam, don’t you wag your finger at me Mufti Nasir-ul-Islam. I have decently debated with you for the last ten minutes but the fact of the matter is there has been a terror group called the Lashkar-e-Taiba7 and Hizbul Mujahideen which carried out a march with Jamaat-eIslami. But you for the opportunist that you are cannot speak against the LET [i.e. Lashkar-e-Taiba] you are scared of them or in league with them. So drink that water and behave yourself. calm down. Calm down, I’m not going to waste my time. Look at Mufti Nasir-ul-Islam unable to control his loyalties. Has to show his real loyalty to Pakistan. Absolutely unable to control. Has to show his loyalty to Pakistan at every single opportunity. I’m so glad television being a transparent medium. Let this medium

expose the real loyalties of these people one by one”.

4 August 2016

In this programme, there was a debate discussing whether the Pakistani Government had “hit an all-time diplomatic low”. There was the following exchange between Arnab Goswami (“AG”) and the Pakistani barrister Zahid Saheed (“ZS”) about perceptions of the level of media coverage about the visit by the Indian Home Minister of Rajnath Singh to Pakistan:

AG: “…the only word I have for this is childish with a capital ‘C’. So childishly you try to ensure that the Indian media can’t cover Rajnath Singh. What did you think? We are not going to get access to what he says, for your kind information, I have with me the full details of what Rajnath Singh has said. I can understand that the Pakistanis don’t want to allow Rajnath Singh’s words to be heard on Pakistan television because you’re damn scared, that is if Rajnath Singh’s truth is heard by the people of Pakistan, then they start asking you questions. I hope they will. But, you don’t allow us to report on our minister. This is childish, this amateurish, this unacceptable, this is just absolutely ridiculous and I want an explanation, on behalf of every Indian citizen, an answer from Pakistani panellists on why on earth this happened, what were you trying to do? What were you scared of? Were you scared that Rajnath walked into your territory and your

soil and confronted you with the bare truth about your support for terrorism. Have the courage to listen to him. Barrister Zahid Saeed open the debate. It’s a free debate after that. Yes, Barrister Zahid Saeed”.

ZS: “Your home minister was welcome in Pakistan–”.

AG: “[AG interrupts shouting] Why was he censored?”

ZS: “I’m trying to, I’m trying to explain. Can you please keep quiet please for a few minutes. He left before they could even answer what he was saying–”

AG: “[Interrupts shouting] Absolute lies! Absolute lies! Absolute lies! How can you lie on Indian television like that Sir? Sorry, but how can you lie? [inaudible]”.

ZS: “You have so much venom in you that its bursting out of you. You must listen!”

AG: “I am asking you why you sent home our home minister. And you know why Zahir Saeed because you’re scared because Rajnath Singh walks out of your hollow promises”.

8 August 2016

In this programme, there was a debate discussing international attitudes to Pakistan’s policy on terrorism, during a heated discussion about India’s involvement in Balochistan, Arnab Goswami (“AG”) allowed Amir MustaQim (“AM”), a Balochi panellist who was critical of Pakistan’s policy on Balochistan, an opportunity to challenge a Pakistani panellist, retired Group Captain Sultan Ali Hali (“SAH”):

AM: “Baloch and India are one. We are one. Why shouldn’t India be involved in Balochistan? I say it is the right of India, not only the right of India, it is the moral responsibility of India to openly support Balochistan. The main foreign interference in Balochistan is the presence of your military boots”.

AG: “[Shouting] Well said!”

AM: “How many have you killed of my blood and bone?”

AG: “[Shouting] Well said!”

AM: “How many have you killed and how many do you want to kill?”

AG: “[Shouting] Answer him, Ambassador, answer him!”

SAH: “Do you know the Geneva Convention? Do you know the lines of diplomacy? If India supports Balochistan openly, this will amount to intervention–”.

AG: “[Shouting] What about Kashmir?! What about Kashmir?! What about Kashmir ?!”

SAH: “Kashmir is a disputed area”.

AG: “Oh for God’s sake! For God’s sake”.

22 September 2016

In this programme, there was a debate discussing about whether “Pakistani apologists” should be allowed on Indian soil. There was the following exchange between Arnab Goswami and an Indian Supreme Court Advocate, Shabnam Lone (“SL”):

AG: “If there was an attempt at trying to keep a divide, a line of plausible deniability, between the Pakistan Government, the Pakistan army and ISI and the group of Pakistan apologists in India, it collapsed in a heap yesterday. Shabnam Lone, when Nawaz Sharif mirrored the words you used about Burhan Wani and therefore my question is simple”.

SL: “Yes, well everything is hunky-dory between India and Pakistan–”.

AG: “–I haven’t asked my question–”.

SL: “–Arnab, nothing has changed–”.

AG: “–I haven’t asked my question–”.

SL: “–I know what question you are asking–”.

AG: “I haven’t asked my question. No, you don’t know, let the question come. The question is this: Do you condemn, and use your words carefully, do you condemn the Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif using his UN speech, using it to describe Burhan Wani as a peace icon and a young leader who was only armed with his beliefs? Do you

condemn Nawaz Sharif?”

Shabnam Lone tried to respond. While she spoke, Arnab Goswami continuously repeated the question “Do you still condemn Nawaz Sharif?” getting louder and more persistent each time she tried to talk. Arnab Goswami then said:

AG: “[Pakistan] is a hostile terrorist nation and I’m asking you tonight. Old tactics will not work. Shabnam Lone’s inability to answer that straight forward question and respond in terms of ‘you’ and ‘them’ ‘us’ and ‘them’ reflects the hypocrisy of the pro-Pakistan brigade in India. Now we will get someone else in. [raises his voice] Shabnam Lone

The Pakistani Directorate General for Inter-Services Intelligence or Inter-Services Intelligence (“ISI”). The Pakistani Prime Minister practices in the Supreme Court and refuses to condemn Nawaz Sharif. She is so paranoid that she will go and say anything, she is flustered and still speaking. Look viewers!”

The Licensee said that the programme was an “internal debate and consciously did not have guest from Pakistan as it was the same day that Pakistan provoked India by allowing a march close to the Wagah border led by terrorists like Hafiz Saeed and Syed Sallahudin”. However, Times Global added that within the series The Newshour as a whole, the viewpoint of “Pakistan and its government” was regularly represented. It provided details of various Pakistani guests that had been featured on The Newshour, which included “representatives of the Pakistani ruling party, which heads the government”. On the issue of linked

programmes, Times Global argued that “there is a clear nexus between the Pakistani establishment and the terror outfits operating out of its territory. And yet, despite the expressions we use in our debates when referring to this terror nexus, we have ensured Pakistani representation in the interests of fairness”.

The Licensee also made representations about the various editions of The Newshour broadcast during August and September 2016. It argued that The Newshour “over this very difficult time in India, did its best to allow the various views to be heard through the debating structure used in this programming”. It added that although the programme “clearly does not follow the same pattern as UK based news services, it did not attempt to promote any particular view of the upheaval occurring at that sensitive point of time”.

Rather, it said that, as a news channel “completely independent from Government, political parties, pressure groups and religious bodies” it had “tried to reflect the varying views that were mainly based both in India and Pakistan”.

Times Global also argued that “It cannot be the purpose of our channel to exactly balance the views from Pakistan or other countries in a rigid fashion to ensure that equal voice is given to all parties. It added that, in its view, over the range of its output it had “observed the spirit of the 'Due Impartiality' rule.

The Licensee said it strives “to bring in as much objectivity as possible in our broadcasts”. It added that the various editions of The Newshour “had strong representations with guests

present from Pakistan i.e. spokespersons of the ruling party, former members of the military establishment, former diplomats, and journalists”.

Times Global also argued that The Newshour content needs to be “viewed in perspective and particularly in the overall context of our coverage over the last few months, primarily

reflecting the public debate and political discussions on Pakistan. The relevant broadcasts complained about were therefore a continuation of the overall coverage of the channel, which at this time primarily focused on the terror attacks in India and India's position on the same”.

Concerning the presenter, Arnab Goswami, The Licensee said that “we can understand some people's views that the presenter's role on these programmes seemed to be rather overwhelming and confrontational”. However, it added that “he is no longer associated with the channel and has moved out of the organization”. Times Global also said that the presenters who had replaced Mr Goswami had “a very different approach” and had been “bringing in a wide range of reactions and comments from the participants on the show, while ensuring that no personal views” are included in the programmes.

In conclusion, Times Global said that as a result of the Ofcom investigation, it had “conducted extensive discussions with the current team, specifically drawing attention to Ofcom Rules and Guidance” It added that it had also taken steps to “conduct training programmes” for its news teams and it stated its belief that “our coverage on sensitive issues such as these should always be undertaken keeping in mind the pertinent rules and guidance”.

24 April 2017

Decision

Under the Communications Act 2003, Ofcom has a statutory duty to set standards for broadcast content as appear to it best calculated to secure the standards objectives, including that the special impartiality requirements set out in section 320 of the Act are complied with. This objective is reflected in Section Five of the Code.

Broadcasters are required to comply with the rules in Section Five to ensure that the impartiality requirements of the Act are complied with, including that due impartiality is preserved on matters of political or industrial controversy and matters relating to current public policy.

When applying the requirement to preserve due impartiality, Ofcom must take into account Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights. This provides for the broadcaster’s and audience’s right to freedom of expression, which encompasses the right to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without undue interference by public authority. The broadcaster’s right to freedom of expression is not absolute. In carrying out its duties, Ofcom must balance the right to freedom of expression against the requirement in the Code to preserve due impartiality on matters relating to political or industrial controversy or matters relating to current public policy.

Ofcom recognises that Section Five of the Code, which sets out how due impartiality must be preserved, acts to limit, to some extent, freedom of expression. This is because its application necessarily requires broadcasters to ensure that neither side of a debate relating to matters of political or industrial controversy and matters relating to current public policy is unduly favoured.

Therefore, while any Ofcom licensee should have the freedom to discuss any controversial subject or include particular points of view in its programming, in doing so broadcasters must always comply with the Code.

Ofcom underlines that the broadcasting of highly critical comments concerning the policies and actions of any government or state agency is not, in itself, a breach of rules on due impartiality. However, depending on the specific circumstances, it may be necessary to reflect alternative viewpoints or provide context in an appropriate way to ensure that Section Five is complied with.

The Code makes clear that the term “due” means adequate or appropriate to the subject matter. Due impartiality does not mean an equal division of time has to be given to every view, or that every argument and every facet of the argument has to be represented. Due impartiality may be preserved in a number of ways and it is an editorial decision for the broadcaster as to how it ensures due impartiality is maintained.

Rule 5.9 states:

“Presenters and reporters (with the exception of news presenters and reporters in news programmes), presenters of “personal view” or “authored” programmes or items, and chairs of discussion programmes may express their own views on matters of political or industrial controversy or matters relating to current public policy. However, alternative viewpoints must be adequately represented either in the programme, or in a series of programmes taken as a whole. Additionally, presenters must not use the advantage of regular appearances to promote their views in a way that compromises the requirement for due impartiality. Presenter phone-ins must encourage and must not exclude alternative views”.

The Code does not prohibit presenters of non-news programming from expressing their views on matters of political or industrial controversy or matters relating to current public policy.

However, alternative viewpoints must be adequately represented either in the programme, or in a series of programmes taken as a whole (i.e.: more than one programme in the same service, editorially linked, dealing with the same or related issues within an appropriate period and aimed at a like audience).

We recognise there is a long tradition of political interviewers and presenters of current affairs programmes, including discussion programmes like The Newshour, robustly challenging the viewpoints of interviewees and panellists to ensure all viewpoints are appropriately scrutinised. In our view, the role of a presenter in challenging the viewpoints of politicians, political commentators, experts and other contributors is an essential feature of current affairs programme as it exposes audiences to a range of viewpoints on political or industrial controversy or matters relating to current public policy. However, under the Code, presenters must not use the advantage of regular appearances to promote their views in a way that compromises the requirement for due impartiality.

Ofcom acknowledged that during the two-month period when the 19 programmes in this case were broadcast, there was a period of notably heightened tension between the Indian and Pakistani Governments. As such, we recognised that Times Now, as a news channel broadcasting from the Indian perspective would want to cover the ongoing relationship between India and Pakistan. In such circumstances, we also recognised that as a channel broadcasting from an Indian perspective, Times Now may have been more likely to broadcast content that took a more critical perspective of the policies and actions of the Pakistani State.

However, as an Ofcom licensee, Times Global had to ensure that it adequately reflected alternative viewpoints. We also recognised that Arnab Goswami, as the established presenter of The Newshour was known to audiences as having a unique hard-hitting style. He was also known for vocally expressing his views on the various matters under discussion in The Newshour.

Ofcom first considered whether the requirements of Section Five of the Code should be applied: that is, whether the subject of the debate concerned matters of political or industrial controversy or matters relating to current public policy.

In our view, the 19 programmes in this case all contained a number of highly critical statements about the policies and actions of the Pakistani Government towards Kashmir and alleged terrorist activities towards India. They also featured highly critical discussion about the Pakistani Government’s policies and actions in other areas such as its treatment of the separatist movement in the Pakistani province of Balochistan. We considered that the programmes clearly dealt with matters of political controversy and matters relating to current public policy. The Licensee was therefore required

to preserve due impartiality to comply with Rule 5.9 of the Code.

The programmes included a number of statements that were critical and gave a one-sided view of Pakistan’s policies and actions in relation to, for example, alleged terrorist activities towards India. Given the gravity of the various criticisms being made about Pakistan (for example, Pakistan was variously described as a: “failed state”; “terrorist nation” and

“international pariah”), we considered that a key relevant alternative viewpoint was one that reflected the opinion of the Pakistani Government, in particular challenging the criticisms made about Pakistani Government within the programmes.

As outlined in the Introduction, each debate on The Newshour included three or four contributors that could reasonably be described as supporting the Pakistani Government or Pakistan more generally. These contributors included: Pakistani political analysts and commentators; retired Pakistani diplomats; retired senior members of the Pakistani armed forces; Pakistani journalists; and both current and retired Pakistani politicians.

However, our concern is this case was the manner in which any views that could be characterised as: either being representative or supportive of the Pakistani Government; or challenging the Indian Government’s policies towards Pakistan; or otherwise arguing that the Indian Government should be more conciliatory towards Pakistan, were treated. We considered that the role and actions of Arnab Goswami were the crucial factor in determining whether due impartiality had been preserved in this case. Throughout all the programmes, Mr Goswami made clear his position on the topic under discussion and consistently expressed views that were heavily critical of the Pakistan Government and correspondingly supportive of the Indian Government. Ofcom underlines that presenters in non-news programmes can express views that are critical or supportive of particular nation states but they must not promote their views in a way that compromises the requirement for due impartiality.

In assessing Arnab Goswami’s role within the programmes, we noted the Licensee’s statement that: “With constant attacks being carried out on Indian soil, by terror forces from across the border, the pulse of the nation and sentiments in the minds of the Indian public and viewers were at a high pitch”. Therefore, it said that the programmes sought to concentrate on “what India should be focusing on at that juncture, in relation to Pakistan”. Further, such issues were “put out in the form of questions during these programmes and an open debate was conducted amongst the participants”. We noted, therefore, that the structure of the debates included within The Newshour followed a similar pattern, whereby Arnab Goswami would introduce the debate topic and then direct discussion during the debate by asking particular panellist questions related to the debate topic.

In reaching our Decision, we considered the various ways in which Arnab Goswami treated the various viewpoints being expressed in the programmes. Times Global said the debates featured in The Newshour programmes “were represented by as many factions as possible and multiple views were put forth by the panellists who participated on these shows”. However, in our view, throughout the programmes, Arnab Goswami took a position that was consistently highly aggressive towards those panellists that could be described as taking a position that was either supportive of the Pakistani Government or suggesting that the Indian Government should adopt a more conciliatory attitude towards Pakistan. For example, when dealing with panellists who were supportive of the Pakistani Government, Arnab Goswami would consistently adopt a highly aggressive and confrontational tone. Frequently, when asking a question to such panellists, he typically afforded them very little opportunity to answer his question, and aggressively interrupted them, such as in the following example from the 4 August 2016 programme:

AG: “What were you scared of? Were you scared that Rajnath walked into your territory and your soil and confronted you with the bare truth about your support for terrorism.Have the courage to listen to him. Barrister Zahid Saeed open the debate. It’s a free debate after that. Yes Barrister Zahid Saeed”.

ZS: “Your home minister was welcome in Pakistan–”.

AG: “[AG interrupts shouting] Why was he censored?

ZS: “I’m trying to, I’m trying to explain. Can you please keep quiet please for a few

minutes. He left before they could even answer what he was saying –”

AG: “[Interrupts shouting] Absolute lies! Absolute lies! Absolute lies! How can you lie on

Indian television like that Sir? Sorry, but how can you lie? [inaudible]”.

ZS: “You have so much venom in you that its bursting out of you. You must listen! –”

AG: “I am asking you why you sent home our home minister. And you know why ZAHIR Saeed because you’re scared because Rajnath Singh walks out of your hollow promises”.

Similarly, in the 28 September 2016, there was the following exchange between Arnab Goswami and a Pakistani contributor, Shafqat Saeed:

AG: “Is becoming a regional pariah enjoyable situation for you? Shafqat Seed is it for you?”

SS: “To whom are you asking the question. Address your panellist?”

AG: “You decide which one of you is speaking. This is the problem, Shafqat Saeed, you

answer. Today, know your situation. You–”

SS: “My situation is alright [inaudible]You have a stupid reason to undo this SAARC. This

region is nothing without Pakistan”.

AG: “One second, Shafqat Saeed, one second. Understand today you are globally notorious and you are globally notorious because you are an international pariah. You understand the seriousness of it? Never before has a country hosting a multi-lateral event faced a combined black out and boycott by other countries. This has never

happened before. It’s not India anymore. Bhutan doesn’t trust you–”

SS: “Who will be [inaudible] paid back? [inaudible due to AG shouting] you will–”

AG: “[shouting over SS] What do you mean paid back? Don’t threaten people, are you

declaring war? You are declaring war on South Asia because you have been boycotted.

You have become an international embarrassment!”

There were also examples when Arnab Goswami, after posing a question to a panellist supporting the Pakistani Government, would aggressively interrupt them, and then immediately allow a panellist from a viewpoint that was critical of the Pakistani Government to speak uninterrupted and at length, such as in the 1 August 2016 programme:

AG: “And I want to know from Mufti Nasir-ul-Islam, whether he agrees with such a statement. When these people say they, ‘we will hoist the Pakistani flag in Kashmir’ I want him to tell me whether he feels that’s a home grown problem’. G.D. Bakshi I will come back but let Mufti Nasir-ul-Islam reply to me please”.



MNI: “Mr Arnab Goswami, do you, do you hear me?”

AG: “I’m hearing you loud and clear”.

MNI: “Ok. Let me begin by paying my tribute to Burham Wami?–”

AG: “Eh listen–”.

MNI: “ –and 70 others who were martyred”.

AG: “No, no, no. Here you see. I will not, no, no, no one second, Mufti Nasir-ul-Islam, Mufti Nasir-ul-Islam. You, no, no, no, Mufti Nasir-ul-Islam you don’t have to say things to

provoke. I can tell you. I can, no, no, no, one second I will not allow you. Nalin Kohli’s on the debate!”

NK: “Any innocent person is not somebody who can be idolised. Next you’ll be saying we should pay tribute to Osama bin Laden. Another time he’s going to say we should pay tribute to somebody else. terrorist is a terrorist! It doesn’t matter those, those who want [continues to talk over MNI’s attempts to talk] participate in democracy and get the aspirations each one is welcome. Those who give up their weapons are welcome but all these tributes of terrorist please not on any show–”.

Arnab Goswami also voiced his enthusiastic support for panellists who were critical of the Pakistani Government, as shown by the following example from the 8 August 2016

programme:

AM: “Baloch and India are one. We are one. Why shouldn’t India be involved in Balochistan? I say it is the right of India, not only the right of India, it is the moral responsibility of India to openly support Balochistan. The main foreign interference in Balochistan is the presence of your military boots”.

AG: “[Shouting] Well said!”

AM: “How many have you killed of my blood and bone?”

AG: “[Shouting] Well said!”

AM: “How many have you killed and how many do you want to kill?”

AG: “[Shouting] Answer him, Ambassador, answer him!”

SAH: “Do you know the Geneva Convention? Do you know the lines of diplomacy? If India

supports Balochistan openly, this will amount to intervention–”.

AG: “[shouting] What about Kashmir?! What about Kashmir?! What about Kashmir?!”

SAH: “Kashmir is a disputed area”.

AG: “Oh for God’s sake! For God’s sake”.

In our view, throughout the 19 programmes in this case, Mr Goswami adopted a markedly different approach when interacting with panellists who were critical of the policies and actions of the Pakistani Government, compared with panellists who supported the policies and actions of the Pakistani Government.

Ofcom underlines it is an editorial matter for broadcasters how they preserve due impartiality, including the format of any programmes they may broadcast dealing with matters of political controversy and matters relating to current public policy. Therefore, in principle it is possible for presenters in panel discussion current affairs programmes to robustly put forward their own views and challenge different viewpoints. However, the editorial format of a programme, and in particular the manner in which a presenter moderates a panel discussion, must not compromise due impartiality.

We took into account that Times Global argued that it had “tried to reflect the varying views that were mainly based both in India and Pakistan”. The programmes did include guests who represented the viewpoint of the Pakistani Government and/or opposed the various criticisms being made of Pakistan more widely. However, we did not consider that over the series of programmes taken as a whole these viewpoints were given sufficient opportunity to be expressed to ensure that the audience was presented with the various sides of the topics under debate.

We also considered the various other representations made by Times Global. First, the Licensee said that The Newshour “clearly does not follow the same pattern as UK based news services”. We agree. Ofcom’s published Guidance states that Ofcom research has demonstrated that in relation to due impartiality “there are greater expectations for news

channels that are perceived to be aimed at a UK audience than there are for channels with a global audience”.

However, the Guidance goes on to state that: “Broadcasters can criticise or support the actions of particular nation-states in their programming, as long as they, as appropriate, reflect alternative views on such matters”.

Second, Times Global also argued that “It cannot be the purpose of our channel to exactly balance the views from Pakistan or other countries in a rigid fashion to ensure that equal voice is given to all parties. It added that, in its view, over the range of its output it had “observed the spirit of the 'Due Impartiality' rule. As mentioned above, the Code makes clear that due impartiality does not mean an equal division of time has to be given to every view, or that every argument and every facet of every argument has to be represented. However, alternative viewpoints must be reflected as appropriate. For the reasons described above, we did not consider this happened in this case.

Finally, the Licensee said that The Newshour content needs to be “viewed in perspective and particularly in the overall context of our coverage over the last few months, primarily reflecting the public debate and political discussions on Pakistan. The relevant broadcasts complained about were therefore a continuation of the overall coverage of the channel, which at this time primarily focused on the terror attacks in India and India's position on the same”.

However, in order to comply with Rule 5.5, alternative viewpoints had to be reflected, as appropriate in programme or series of programmes taken as a whole. Therefore, a television broadcaster cannot rely on its coverage over its schedule as a whole as evidence of how it may have reflected alternative views on a particular matter.

In reaching our Decision, we took into account that the Licensee told us that the presenter “…is no longer associated with the channel and has moved out of the organization”.

Times Global also said that the presenters who had replaced Mr Goswami had “a very different approach” and had been “bringing in a wide range of reactions and comments from the participants on the show, while ensuring that no personal views” are included in the programmes. In addition, the Licensee said, as a result of the Ofcom investigation, Times Global had “conducted extensive discussions with the current team, specifically drawing attention to Ofcom Rules and Guidance”. It had also taken steps to “conduct training programmes” for its news teams.

However, for all the reasons above, we considered that the presenter used the advantage of his regular appearances in the 19 programmes in this case to promote his views in a way that compromised the requirement for due impartiality.

Our Decision, therefore, is that the programmes Breaches of Rule 5.9.

Ofcom understands that Arnab Goswami resigned from Times Now in early November 2016.

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