Zee News may challenge NBSA order on ‘Afzal Premi Gang..."

 MUMBAI: Self-regulatory news broadcasters authority NBSA has asked the Hindi news channel Zee News to pay Rs 1 lakh as a fine for the report titled ‘Afzal Premi Gang ka Mushaira’, telecast an apology on 8 September and remove the programme video from Zee website.

In the report, Zee News had referred to Urdu poet and scientist Gauhar Raza as anti-national and a supporter of Afzal Guru who was convited and hanged for 2001 Parliament attack. The channel had telecast one of the poetry recitals of Raza along with the footage of the controversial Jawaharlal Nehru University protests of February 2016.

Zee Media editor Sudhir Chaudhary meanwhile denied violation of NBSA guidelines. The channel, Chaudhary said, was contemplating legal remedies including challenging NBSA order, Mint reported.

Acting on two complaints one by Raza in April 2016 and a joint complaint filed by the singer Shubha Mudgal, actor Sharmila Tagore, poet Ashok Vajpeyi and writer Syeda Hameed, the NBSA chairperson retired justice R.V. Raveendran, in an order dated 31 August, stated that the channel had breached the NBSA guidelines.

NBSA, at a meeting held on 10 January 2017, after viewing the CD, considering the submissions  and  examining  the  matter,  was of  the view that  the broadcaster (Zee) had breached  the guidelines  relating to accuracy, impartiality, neutrality, which  required "TV  news channels  must provide  for neutrality  by offering  equality for all affected parties, players and actors in any dispute  or conflict  to present  their point  of  view" and "news  channels  must  strive to ensure  that allegations  are not  portrayed  as fact and charges are not conveyed as an act of guilt",  fairness, objectivity and privacy as also the "Guidelines on broadcast of potential defamatory content''; that  the broadcaster had  failed to give an opportunity to Prof   Gauhar  Raza, who  was being reported upon,  to give his version/views; that broadcasting a programme using  the footage of  the JNU  incidents  with  the  poetry  recital of  Prof  Raza and  giving title to  the programme as "Afzal Premi Gang ka Mushaira" was highly inappropriate and derogatory as mere reference  by Prof  Gauhar  Raza while reciting his poetry  to "Kanhaiya", "Nehru University" & "Rohit Vemula",  could not be a ground to brand the poet,  the organisers  of  the Mushaira  and the audience  as "Afzal Premi  Gang"; and  that  branding  all  the participants/audience  who  attended  the  Mushaira  as belonging to a "gang" who admired Afzal Guru, when Gauhar Raza in his poetry recital did not even mention or refer to Afzal Guru, was unwarranted."

The request of  the complainant for award of compensation  of Rs.10 million for loss of reputation, and consequences of incitement of hatred and ill-will against him, was not considered, "being beyond the jurisdiction of NBSA."


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