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Khalsa TV: UK watchdog fines 50k pounds for inciting violence

Khalsa TV: UK watchdog fines 50k pounds for inciting violence

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Virendra Pandit 

New Delhi: The United Kingdom’s media watchdog has imposed a hefty fine of 50,000 pounds on Khalsa Television Ltd, owner of KTV, for broadcasting a music video and a discussion that carried a terror reference and was an indirect call for the British Sikh to commit violence.

On Friday, the Office of Communications (Ofcom), the UK government-media regulatory authority, issued the order after its findings dating back to February and November 2019.

The regulator also directed the controversial channel to broadcast a statement of Ofcom’s findings on a date and in a form to be determined by the watchdog. Besides, it directed KTV not to repeat the music video or the discussion program which it found violating rules.

Ofcom imposed financial penalties of 20,000 pounds and 30,000 pounds on Khalsa Television Ltd and its service KTV for failing to comply with the broadcasting rules. The 20,000 pounds penalty relates to a music video while the 30,000 pounds penalty is for a discussion program.

On July 4, 7, and 9 in 2018, KTV had broadcast a music video for a song called Bagga and Shera. After investigation, Ofcom concluded that the music video was an indirect call for the British Sikhs to commit violence, including murder.

The program also included brief flashes, which, when slowed down, revealed frames of on-screen text, seeking to influence viewers by conveying a message, and influencing their minds, which Ofcom found violating rules of the broadcast, media reports said.

The controversial discussion was aired live on March 30, 2019, as Panthak Masle (Issues pertaining to the Faith).

Ofcom concluded that the program provided a platform for several guests to express views that amounted to indirect calls to action and were likely to encourage or incite the commission of a crime or lead to disorder.

It included a reference to the proscribed terrorist organization, Babbar Khalsa, which could be taken as legitimizing it and normalizing its aims and actions in the eyes of viewers, Ofcom said.

KTV broadcasts primarily to the Sikh community in the United Kingdom under a license held by Khalsa Television Ltd.

Ofcom investigated the complaints that the said music video and discussion was likely to encourage or incite crime or violence. The music video contained an image of former Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, which Ofcom noted emphasized the video’s narrative of advocating violent action against the Indian state.

The discussion, being broadcast in Punjabi, forced Ofcom to commission an English translation. It said that KTV was notified about the investigation and did not initially raise accuracy issues but later did, resulting in a second translation.

It concluded that KTV failed to ensure that material that was potentially highly offensive to viewers was justified by the context and therefore in breach of its code.

On its website, KTV describes itself as an exciting channel, airing a range of cultural, educational, and entertaining programs for audiences of all ages. It says it prides itself on being completely independent, impartial, and honest.


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