Zee News is in the dock yet again, this time for its coverage of the farmers’ protest, specifically the coverage in the run up to the tractor rally that was being planned by farmers for Republic Day.
The National Broadcasting and Digital Standards Authority (NBDSA) has found that the channel was in “clear violation of the Code of Ethics and Broadcasting Standards and Specific Guideline Covering Reportage, Fundamental Standards and Guidelines 1 and 2” in case of two shows aired before Republic Day.
This was in response to a complaint by one Mr. Indrajeet Ghorpade, who drew attention to the two shows by Zee News:
· Tal Thok Ke: Khalistan se kab saawdhan hoga Kisan (aired on January 19, 2021)
· Tal Thok Ke: Nahi mane Kisan toh kya Republic Day par hoga ‘Grihyuddh’? (aired January 20, 2021)
The complainant had highlighted how the reportage had violated guidelines that prohibit channels from crating “panic, distress or undue fear”, mixing facts with “opinion, analysis or comment”, or “giving undue prominence to any particular view”. Further the complainant stated that in both programmes, unverified videos from social media, showing tractors with modification, were aired.
But what was perhaps most shocking was the blatant use of captions like:
· War against the Republic
· Civil War on Republic Day
· Tractor March or War
· Tractors are modified into armoured vehicles
· Conspiracy of a War against the Republic
· Khalistan Dominates the Protest
· When will the farmer become more careful about Khalistan?
All of these and many more captions were found by the NBDSA to be in “clear violation of the Code of Ethics and Broadcasting Standards and Specific Guideline Covering Reportage, Fundamental Standards and Guidelines 1 and 2.”
The NBDSA also expressed its “disapproval to the broadcaster on the use of the aforementioned Headlines/Taglines and decided to issue Specific Guidelines relating to broadcast/publishing of Taglines, Hashtags and use of Images/Photographs. It further directed Zee News to take down the videos of the aforementioned broadcast and confirm the same in writing to it in 7 days.
The complete order may be read here: