Channel, anchor pulled up for turning the debate into a ‘communal issue’

News Broadcasting and Digital Standards Authority (NBDSA), a self-regulatory agency set up by news and digital broadcasters, pulled up News18 India for turning a news debate on hijab into a “communal issue” and fined it Rs 50,000. Channel for not following the guidelines.

The NBDSA also directed the channel to remove the program’s video from its website and all platforms.

NBDSA Chairman Justice AK Sikri (Retd), in an October 211 order, said that “if such violations are repeated in future, it may have to direct the broadcaster to ensure the presence of anchor Mr Aman Chopra before NBDSA”.

Chopra was not available for comment.

Indrajit Ghorpade said in his complaint that the anchor made provocative statements against Muslim panellists in the show aired on April 6l. The complaint noted that tickers such as “#AlQaedaGangExposed”, “Al Zawahiri found behind hijab”, and “Al Qaeda plans hijab controversy” were used.

The broadcaster submitted that it had reported facts publicly available and widely reported by other outlets regarding the hijab controversy. It also presented that she questioned al-Zawahiri’s intentions on the show and made no comment concerning girls voicing support for the hijab.

The NBDSA, which adjudicates complaints about broadcasts, said it had no problem with the subject but with the narrative of the debate. In its order, the NBDSA said it was permissible for the broadcaster to debate students wearing hijab in educational institutions after the Karnataka HC decided on the issue. It was also open for the channel to discuss whether some hidden international forces were provoking people, it said.

The NBDSA rejected the channel’s request that the terms “Hijabi Gang” and “Zawahiri Gang” be used only about the “invisible forces behind the controversy” and not about the students.

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