India’s National Broadcasting & Digital Standards Authority has held that Zee News was guilty of broadcasting fake news through repeated TV debate shows on farmers’ protests. The NBDSA, which was formerly known as NBSA, ordered Zee Media to immediately remove all videos found to be in breach of the ‘Code of Ethics and Broadcasting Standards and Specific Guideline Covering Reportage, Fundamental Standards and Guidelines 1 and 2.’
The order was passed by the Chair of the NBDSA, retired Supreme Court judge, Justice AK Sikri, on 19 November on the complaint of one Indrajeet Ghorpade.
The NBDSA took objection to inflammatory headlines used by Zee News to defame protesting farmers during its broadcast. Some of the headlines highlighted in the original complaint were ‘Civil War on Republic Day’, ‘Conspiracy of a War against the republic’, ‘Terror Tractor-Trailers in the protest’, ‘Tractors are modified into armoured vehicles’, ‘Khalistan dominates the protest’, ‘Plan Khalistan for insurgence against the Republic’.
The NBDSA said in its order, “In view of the above, NBDSA decided to express its disapproval to the broadcaster (Zee News) on the use of the aforementioned headlines/taglines and decided to issue specific guidelines relating to broadcasting/publishing of taglines, hashtags and use of images/photographs.
“In view of the above, NBDSA, therefore, directed that the video of the said broadcasts, if still available on the website of the channel, or YouTube, or any other links, should be removed immediately, and the same should be confirmed to the NBDSA in writing within seven days.”
The complaint had said that Zee News had accused farmers of insulting India’s national flag at the Red Fort by replacing it with the Nishan Sahib flag during their 26 January protest rally in Delhi. The complainant said that the flag removed was most probably of the Bhartiya Kisan Union. He said that Zee News did not respond to his complaint when he approached the pro-government TV channel, notorious for spreading Islamophobia in India.
Titled as ‘Tractor se yuddh ki taiyari (Preparing for war with the help of tractor), Zee News had also aired a video of a tractor from Germany in its broadcast on 19 January and claimed it to be belonging to India’s protesting farmers. The female voice in the video had said, “Farmers are claiming that their Republic Day rally is peaceful, but preparations are showing that the hidden motive is not peaceful.”
The female voice had also claimed that farmers wanted to wage a war against the country in the guise of their planned tractor rally.
Zee News editor Sudhir Chaudhary has been in the news recently for wrong reasons after a UAE princess called him a ‘terrorist’ and demanded a ban on his entry into her country. This was after the Abu Dhabi chapter of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India invited Chaudhary as a speaker in its upcoming event.