UK broadcast regulator Ofcom has held Times Now guilty of breaching its broadcast code by presenting news in a biased manner as per a report in Crowdnewsing.
The channel’s parent group Times Global, fearing a closure in UK, has assured the regulator that no personal views will be presented in its programmes and that they will impart training to sensitise their staff on giving unbiased news.
Referring to Times Now’s coverage of the Uri attacks last year, Ofcom says that the channel did not present the news with due impartiality and breached Rule 5.9 of the broadcast code.
The regulator also studied the channel’s discussion on ‘Newshour’ of the mounting tensions between India and Pakistan over Kashmir and published its findings.
There are several instances where the show squarely blames Pakistan for the Kashmir crisis without taking alternative viewpoints into account, the report says quoting those instances.
One of the instances of biased reporting is quoted as follows: “What Pakistan has done...is openly admit that ‘we are organising it, we are managing it, we are funding the protests, we are financing it, we are logistically organising it, we have our terrorist groups leading it”.
The report states, “The programmes included a number of statements that were critical and gave a one-sided view of Pakistan’s policies and actions in relation to, for example, alleged terrorist activities towards India. Given the gravity of the various criticisms being made about Pakistan (for example, Pakistan was variously described as a: “failed state”; “terrorist nation” and “international pariah”), we considered that a key relevant alternative viewpoint was one that reflected the opinion of the Pakistani Government, in particular challenging the criticisms made about Pakistani Government within the programmes.”
Times Global in its response said that it cannot be the purpose of the channel to balance the views from Pakistan or other countries in a rigid fashion but added that it had observed the spirit of ‘Due Impartiality’ rule over the range of its output.
Referring to Arnab Goswami who was anchoring the show at the time, it said, “We can understand some people’s views that the presenter’s role on these programmes seemed to be rather overwhelming and confrontational. He is no longer associated with the channel and has moved out of the organisation”.
Ofcom added that since Arnab’s exit, the presenters who had come in his place have “a very different approach” and have not been airing their personal views in the programmes while also bringing in a wide range of reactions.
Ofcom conducted its study between August and September 2016. It began the study after a complainant found The Newshour edition broadcast on August 1, 2016 to be biased and alerted the broadcaster.