The News Broadcasting and Digital Standards Authority on Monday passed orders against news channels Times Now and Zee News for their reporting on protests by the Popular Front of India and the rise in the country’s population.

In the case of Times Now, the news regulatory body cautioned the channel to be more careful while reporting on such topics in the future. It also directed Times Now to remove the video of the broadcast and remove all hyperlinks to it.

The NBDSA passed the order in connection with a news report that was broadcast by the channel on September 24. The news broadcast had alleged that “Pakistan Zindabad” slogans were chanted during a protest by Islamic organisation Popular Front of India in Pune, but the claim was later debunked.

In its response to the complaint, the channel claimed that its news reporting was based upon information received from various sources including news agencies like ANI, PTI and other freelance reporters on the ground. The channel said that its own reporter was not present at the location.

However, the news regulatory body said that the channel itself had said in its report and during the hearing that it was the first to report on the matter at 10.06 am on September 24.

“NBDSA also noted that several fact checking websites had fact checked the said news report by stating that it was not ‘Pakistan Zindabad’ but slogans of ‘PFI Zindabad’ which were raised during the said protest,” the order read.

The order noted that Times Now not only ran tickers such as “News Break Here First ‘Pakistan Zindabad’ slogans at PFI stir”, “Pak slogans by PFI workers” and “Pak Zindabad slogans raised”, but the anchor had also emphasised on the claims, which reaffirmed that the slogans were raised by PFI workers during the protest.

The news regulatory body said that Times Now should have been careful in reporting the matter if it was unsure of the slogans shown in the video, and should have run a disclaimer with respect of the authenticity of the video.

Zee News gave communal colour to population explosion: NBDSA

The News Broadcasting and Digital Standards Authority also criticised Zee News for targeting the Muslim community in a report about the country’s population rise and selectively broadcasting statistics to give the topic a communal colour.

The order noted that the broadcast lacked objectivity and neutrality as it disproportionately focused only on one religion as being solely responsible for the population growth. “By airing unrelated visuals of Muslim gatherings and by selectively sharing statistics about the Hindu-Muslim population, NBDSA observed that it was the broadcaster who had given the issue of population explosion a communal colour,” the order said.

The broadcast regulator cautioned Zee News not to air such reports in future. It directed the channel to broadcast a message saying that its report was found to have violated the Code of Ethics and Broadcasting Standards. The news channel has also been directed to remove the video of the programme and all hyperlinks to it.

The Zee News report that targeted Muslims for the rise in the country's population. Credit/ YouTube screenshot

The news regulatory body had on Monday also fined Hindi news channel News18 India for making objectionable statements about Muslims in four shows hosted by news anchor Aman Chopra. The topics of the shows ranged from glorifying public flogging of Muslims to false claiming an increase in the population of the community.