Bengaluru: Acting upon the complaints filed by the Bengaluru-based Campaign Against Hate Speech (CAHS), the National Broadcasting Standards Authority (NBSA) came down heavily on three television channels for their biased coverage of the Tablighi Jamaat religious congregation.
The NBSA rebuked censured English news channel Times Now and fined two Kannada channels — News 18 Kannada and Suvarna News, in which ‘they had targeted members of Tablighi Jamaat as well as the Muslim community’ in February-March 2020, before the onset of COVID-19 in India.
Over a complaint against a panel discussion “Is Tablighi Jamaat wilfully sabotaging India?”, aired on April 2, 2020, the NBSA has issued a censure to Times Now “for telecasting such a programme on a sensitive issue which could create communal dissension amongst communities”.
The NBSA, in its order dated June 16, 2021, issued a censure to the channel for telecasting any programme that could cause communal dissensions.
The CAHS also took objection to two programmes aired by TV18 Kannada on April 1, 2020, on Tablighi Jamaat. The NBSA has imposed a fine of ₹1 lakh on the broadcaster payable to the National Broadcasters Association (NBA) and directed it to run an apology on air on June 23 for violating the Code of Ethics and Broadcasting Standards.
The authority has also asked the broadcaster to take down videos of the two programmes from all web portals.
Besides, acting on a complaint against seven programmes aired by Suvarna News between May 31 and April 4, 2020, the NBSA imposed a fine of ₹50,000 on the broadcaster, payable to the NBA, and asked it to take down the videos from public forums.
After the onset of COVID-19 in the country, major media houses vilified the Tablighi Jamaat congregation for the spread of virus in the country. Many of them even up to the extent of blaming Muslims for the same, calling it ‘Corona Jihad’.
However, even at its peak, the cases linked to the Tablighi Jamaat gathering in Delhi were not more than one third of the total cases, during the virus’ nascent stage.