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Thursday, October 22, 2020

Aaj Tak fined Rs 1 lakh for attributing ‘fake tweets’ to Sushant, group to request NBSA to reconsider order

The NBSA also ordered Aaj Tak, Zee News, News 24 and India TV to air an apology for violating its guidelines while covering Rajput’s death. Aaj Tak was found in violation of NBSA guidelines in four separate complaints and will have to air an apology for each violation.

By: Express News Service | New Delhi | October 13, 2020 4:37:30 am
Sushant Singh Rajput, Delhi resident SUshant singh Rajput, Vibhor Anand, Vibhor Anand arrested, mumbai police, sushant singh rajput case, delhi resident arrested sushant case, delhi city news, mumbai city newsSushant Singh Rajput.

The News Broadcasting Standards Authority (NBSA) has imposed a fine of Rs 1 lakh on news channel Aaj Tak for attributing “fake tweets” to actor Sushant Singh Rajput in a broadcast related to his death.

The India Today Group, which runs Aaj Tak, told The Indian Express on Monday that it will request NBSA to reconsider its order.

The NBSA also ordered Aaj Tak, Zee News, News 24 and India TV to air an apology for violating its guidelines while covering Rajput’s death. Aaj Tak was found in violation of NBSA guidelines in four separate complaints and will have to air an apology for each violation.

NBSA is an independent body set up by the News Broadcasters Association (NBA) and tasked with deciding complaints about broadcasts and hold its members accountable. Retired Justice A K Sikri is its current chairperson.

In its detailed order dated October 6, NBSA found that Aaj Tak, in attributing fake tweets to Rajput, had violated its guideline on gathering information first-hand and from multiple sources. After discovering that it had been misled, the news channel deleted the tweets and took down its article.

NBSA was of the view that Aaj Tak should have verified the information before airing the news report, and not afterward.

Besides paying a fine, NBSA ordered that videos of the same programmes, if hosted on the website of the broadcasters, YouTube or other links, should be removed immediately and the channel should air an apology for it.

“We are in process of filing a representation before NBSA while requesting to reconsider its directions issued vide its Order bearing No. 73(2020) on the issue of jurisdictional overreach,” the corporate communications team of India Today Group said in an emailed response.

In a decision on another complaint, Aaj Tak, Zee News and News24 were pulled up for airing offensive headlines while reporting Rajput’s death, which the NBSA order noted affected the “dignity of the deceased”. They have been ordered to apologise on air.

While Aaj Tak ran the tagline “Aise kaise hit-wicket ho gaye Sushant?”, a Zee News telecast carried the headline “Patna ka Sushant, Mumbai me fail kyun?” News 24 used the headline “Hey, why didn’t you watch your own film Sushant?”, a reference to Rajput’s film Chhichhore, which dealt with mental health.

Sudhir Chaudhary, editor-in-chief of Zee News, did not respond to a message seeking his comment on NBSA’s order.

Aaj Tak and India TV have also been asked to apologise for showing visuals of Rajput’s body to their viewers. ABP Majha and News Nation have been let off with a warning since the former did not air close-up images of the corpse and the latter had “profusely regretted the telecast”.

Chairman and editor-in-chief of India TV Rajat Sharma did not respond to The Indian Express’s message seeking a comment on the order. Sharma is also president of the News Broadcasters Association.

The NBSA also found that Aaj Tak violated its guidelines on privacy, as reporters barged into Rajput’s home to interview the actor’s grieving father. While the reporters of ABP News had also approached the actor’s cousin, the channel was let off with a warning since she had agreed to be interviewed.

In its order, the NBSA acknowledged that while the media has the right to freedom of expression, it is “equally important to present the news in a manner which does not violate the privacy of the dead nor sensationalise a tragic incident”.

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