The News Broadcasting and Digital Standards Authority (NBDSA), on June 13, has directed, private news channels Zee News, Zee Hindustan, India TV, Aaj Tak, and News18 to remove with immediate effect news broadcasts pertaining to misleading reporting and representing facts in the wrong way in relation to jailed activist Umar Kalid case.
The petition was filed by Indrajeet Ghorpade on November 30, 2020.
According to the ruling given by NBDSA, it said that the media has the freedom to report on subjects mattering to public interests but does not have the right to treat the police report as the only truth.
“The media has the freedom to report on any subject matter concerning public interest. It is a fact that riots took place in Delhi. It is also a fact that Umar Khalid was arrested by the police, and the police have filed a charge sheet alleging that Umar Khalid was the mastermind behind these riots…However, an important question that arises at this stage is whether the media has the right to treat the police report as gospel truth, and on that basis, proceed to discuss the programme as if the charge of inciting violence leading to riots stands proven against Umar Khalid? Obviously, that is not permissible,” the media body stated.
NBDSA pointed out it was crystal clear that the named TV news channels crossed the line by broadcasting sensationalist taglines and tickers continuously on their screens.
“Taglines and tickers such as ‘Umar Khalid is the Mastermind of Delhi riots’, ‘Umar Khalid plotted the Delhi riots’, ‘He burnt Delhi, he is not a comrade, he is a rioter’, ‘Umar Khalid and Sharjeel Imam biggest masterminds’, ‘Sharjeel-Umar incited violence’ gives an impression that the ‘said accused has already been declared guilty,” the NBDSA pointed out.
It further added that when a viewer views such content running continuously on their TV screens, it creates a certain perception. “These taglines or hashtags should be used carefully, especially in controversial matters,” the media body said.
“In view of the above, these broadcasters/channels are advised to exercise restraint and not to broadcast such taglines and/or hashtags which project the accused in a manner as if he/she is guilty,” NBDSA said.
The five videos which have been asked to be removed from the web are: ‘Delhi Riots को लेकर बड़ा खुलासा | Umar Khalid, Sharjeel Imam की साजिश’ by Zee Hindustan; ‘Taal Thok Ke (Special Edition): 2016 के JNU Plan से 2020 में Delhi Riots?’ by Zee News; ‘How Sharjeel Imam, Umar Khalid Plotted Violence in Jamia, Shaheen Bagh, Aligarh Over Volatile Issue’ by India TV; ‘Delhi Riots: Suppl. Chargesheet Filed Against Umar Khalid, Sharjeel Imam’ by India TV. The fifth video is currently unavailable on YouTube.
Who is NBDSA?
The News Broadcasting and Digital Standards Authority (NBDSA) is a self-regulatory media body of private TV channels. It is currently being headed by a former Supreme Court judge A K Sikri.
NBDSA was formed to keep a check on all private news channels and consider complaints about broadcasts. NBDSA was formerly known as News Broadcasting Standards Authority.