In a serious setback to Zee News, the watchdog for news channels in India, News Broadcasters Standards Authority (NBSA) has imposed a fine of Rs 1 lakh against the channel for airing a mischievous programme against a prominent Muslim poet, Gauhar Raza.
In its order dated 1 September, the NBSA found Zee News guilty of serious breach of code of ethics meant for TV broadcasters and asked the channel to air apology on 8 September at 9 PM with due prominence.
The order said, “Members present were unanimous in their view that the entire programme was intended to sensationalise the issue in a biased manner and facts were distorted and manipulated to masquerade as news.”
On 8 September, Zee News will have to carry the following apology at 9 PM in both Hindi and English on ‘full screen in large font size with a clearly audible voice-over (in slow speed) expressing regret for the said telecast on their channel.’
The apology text will be as follows; “Zee News regrets the taglines used and views expressed during the broadcas of the programme/news report under the caption “Afzal Premi Gang ka Mushaira” on 9.3.2016 to 12.3.2016, reporting upon the poetry recital of Prof. Gauhar Raza on 5.3.2016 at the annual Shankar Shad (Indo-Pak) mushaira at New Delhi. Zee News also regrets the description of Prof Gauhar Raza and the attendees/partcipants at the event as “Afzal Premi Gang.”
Poet Raza had written to the management of Zee News demanding an on-air apology and compensation worth Rs 1 crore.
This elicited angry reactions from eminent scholars, journalists, advocates and members of civil of society.
More than 200 of them had signed a joint statement asking the Arvind Kejriwal government of Delhi to punish the channel, which according to them, has been flouting ‘all ethical codes of journalistic conduct’ and putting ordinary citizen’s life at risk.