NBDSA slaps Rs 75,000 fine to Mukesh Ambani’s News18 for debate shows demonising Muslims by Aman Chopra

On Monday, February 27, News18 India was fined a total of Rs 75,000 by NBDSA, a self-regulatory body responsible for television channel oversight. Anchor Aman Chopra’s two broadcasts were the subject of the fines, with the first program focused on Yogi Adityanath’s “80 vs 20” remark and the second centered around the public flogging of Muslim men in Kheda district, Gujarat.

On February 27, the News Broadcasting & Digital Standards Authority (NBDSA), acting as the self-regulatory body for all members of the News Broadcasters & Digital Association, issued orders in response to complaints filed by two individuals and Citizens for Justice and Peace.

The NBDSA has stated that Chopra’s first case involved making communally polarising statements, which led to the “threshold of impartiality” being crossed. The second case, which concerned the Kheda flogging incident, saw the anchor condemning the entire Muslim community for the actions of a few miscreants who were accused of pelting stones at a garba event. According to the NBDSA, the conduct of the debate was unacceptable, and the statements made by the anchor had the potential to disrupt communal harmony in the country.

News channels violating the Code of Ethics and Broadcasting Standards are typically not fined by the NBDSA, and complaints against them are usually closed with a censure. However, News18 India was censured and fined in two separate orders, which is an uncommon occurrence.

The self-regulatory body has issued guidelines to its members aimed at preventing hate speech. The guidelines direct editors, editorial personnel, anchors, journalists, and presenters to avoid using language and agenda-driven words, terms and adjectives, and any forms of expression that may advocate violence or engender hatred against individuals or communities. These guidelines were issued following the Supreme Court’s inquiry into why the NBDSA could not remove offending anchors from the air.

It is worth noting that News18 India was fined Rs 50,000 by the NBDSA in October 2022 for airing another program hosted by Aman Chopra. The discussion centered around the hijab ban in Karnataka and was deemed to have provided a platform for extreme views.

The initial order pertained to a program called ‘Desh Nahi Jhukne Denge,’ which aired on January 18, 2022, with the title ‘हिन्दुओं के ह़िलाफ़ महागठबंधन?’ (An anti-Hindu grand alliance?). This episode was broadcasted a few days after Yogi Adityanath’s statement that the Uttar Pradesh assembly election was “80 vs 20,” which was viewed as an attempt to create a divide between the majority and minority communities.

According to the NBDSA, Aman Chopra made remarks such as “Ye 80 k khilaf hai mahagathbandhan” (This Grand Alliance is against 80% of the population – meaning Hindus) and “Wo keh ray lwi kay unhey Hinduo sey problem hai aur wo 80 kay khilaaf hai” (They do not like Hindus and are against the majoritarian population). The NBDSA also remarked that a news anchor is expected to be objective, impartial, and neutral.

According to the complaint filed by Ghorpade, the second order was issued based on a show that was aired on September 29. The program was accused of portraying all Muslim men as criminals who aim to harm or deceive Hindu women. The complaint further stated that the impugned broadcast demonized not only the men but also the entire Muslim community.

News18 India was cautioned by the NBDSA to refrain from using tickers that could generate communal disharmony and ordered to remove the video from the public domain.