The News Broadcasting Standards Authority (NBSA) has summoned Zee News for its "divisive" report aired earlier this year in March on the different types of Jihad.
The NBSA said that programme was "not in consonance with the Fundamental Principles of the Code of Ethics…" and targeted a particular community.
The regulatory body noted that the special report violated several provisions of the Code of Ethics which says: "Broadcasters shall ensure a full and fair presentation of news". Zee News also breached the guidelines on Broadcast of Potentially Defamatory Content and Specific Guideline Covering Reportage relating to Racial & Religious Harmony.
"NBSA was also of the prima facie view that the tone and tenor of the programme was divisive and that the broadcast certainly was targeting a particular community which is against the secular ethos of our country," the regulatory authority's order read.
NBSA's order came on the heels of two complaints it received. Journalist Saket Gokhale complained to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (I&B) on March 12, a day after the programme was aired, while NGO Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) filed its complaint with the broadcaster on March 24.
NBSA received Gokhale's complaint before the I&B ministry June 25, whereas, CJP's complaint came before the regulatory body on April 16 after Zee News ignored the objection.
The two complainants have also been called for the hearing slated for November 26.
Zee News programme malicious with intent of creating a communal divide: CJP
On March 24, CPJ filed a complaint with Zee News for its programme titled, "DNA: Jammu main jameen ki islamikaran ka test (Testing the islamicization of land in Jammu) where the host Sudhir Chaudhary showed his viewers "a Jihad diagram propagating various types of Jihad in the country categorizing them as soft jihad and hard jihad".
The complainant alleged that "in a country which is walking a tight rope when it comes to its communal issues, such a brazen display of cooked up concepts and types of Jihad is an attempt to create and propagate Islamophobia among the masses."
Flowchart on Types of Jihad explains modus operandi of extremist groups: Zee News
On April 17, Zee News replied to CJP's complaint stating that "The flow chart of Jihad, which we presented to the viewers during our show, merely explained the modus operandi of the people of extremist groups, who in the garb of Jihad, have been trying to convert India into a complete Islamic Country."
"That so far as the display of flow chart of Jihad is concerned, the same was related to only those people who want our country to be divided into pieces irrespective of their religion and therefore, while displaying the aforesaid chart, our anchor, as a disclaimer, has stated that they are not targeting any particular religion and the aforesaid news report is only relates to those who wants to destroy our country," it further stated.
Zee News asserted that it "never tried to promote and incite the communal hatred as falsely alleged." The aforesaid show that analyzed "the concept of Zameen Jihad in Jammu and Kashmir is completely uncolored (sic) from any motive, prejudice or notions but are based completely on verified, accurate and established facts and do not tend to promote disharmony or enmity between the different religion."
The channel in fact "imposed self-restraint while conducting the analysis in their aforesaid show."
Channel has shown utter disregard towards the very basics of the ethics of journalism: CJP to Zee News
In a rejoinder to the response by Zee News, CJP stated that the broadcaster's response "is replete with factual assertions" with the malicious intention of creating a communal divide by pitching one religion against the other. "There seems to be a misrepresentation of facts by the broadcaster in its show which shows not only its abject disregard towards the presentation of truth but its thrust and focus being on airing a divisive, partisan and communal narrative to appease to a certain ideology", the rejoinder said. "A simple viewing and re-viewing of the show reveal the intent of the broadcaster which is to showcase both the religion of Islam and 'jehad' as having negative and predatory qualities," it added.
CJP pointed out that if the broadcaster was really professional, ethical, secular and unbiased in its/his intent and had high regard for the Laws of the Land, the Constitution, the Unity and Integrity of the nation, as it claimed in its response, one would have expected, at the bare minimum a thorough fact check before propagating such blatantly divisive propaganda and rhetoric through its show.
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