The News Broadcasting and Digital Standards Authority on Thursday directed news channel Times Now Navbharat to remove the video of its September 2022 show on Muslim men entering garba events, for giving the programme a “communal tilt”, Live Law reported.
The media body’s order was passed on complaints filed by two persons who alleged that the news channel’s show targeted the entire Muslim community and violated the broadcasting standards.
The complaints pertained to a show aired by Times Now Navbharat on September 29, 2022 about the assault of a Muslim man by Bajrang Dal members at a garba event. The channel claimed that the episode focused on women’s safety at public events and it highlighted an incident where inappropriate photographs of women had been taken by men at the garba event.
However, the ticker during the broadcast, anchored by the channel’s editor-in-chief Navika Kumar, added a communal angle to the reporting, one of the complainants alleged.
“In a country like India where diverse people of all backgrounds come together to celebrate festivals, such a question was raised by the anchor on national television based solely on some reports which claimed that some boys had ‘allegedly’ misbehaved during the garba festival,” one of the complainants argued.
The complainant also alleged that Kumar “baselessly” questioned why Muslims do not attend other Hindu festivals and “why they only love garba”.
Kumar’s report targeted the entire Muslim community for an alleged act committed by a few individuals and had “sowed the seeds of disharmony”, the complainant added.
He also said that the news channel claimed that such incidents happen every year without providing proof of the claim and demonised Muslim men.
On Thursday, the news regulatory body said that had women’s safety been the focus of the programme, it would not have found any fault with the reportage. “However, instead of confining to the issue of safety of women, the broadcaster went overboard and gave it a communal tilt which tends to taint the manner in which the programme was conducted,” the order said.
The News Broadcasting and Digital Standards Authority also said that the anchor’s questions and the language used in the tickers showed that the broadcaster had generalised the alleged incidents creating an impression that men from a certain community were miscreants or criminals who were trying to harm women of another community during the festival.
The media body cautioned Times Now Navbharat against using such tickers in the future and advised it to avoid giving a communal colour when reporting such incidents.
“The broadcaster had violated the guidelines to prevent communal colour in reporting crime, riots, rumours and such related incidents and the Specific Guidelines Covering Reportage relating to Racial and Religious Harmony,” the order said.
It directed the channel to remove the show’s video from its website or its YouTube channel and confirm it in writing within seven days of the order.