The News Broadcasting Standards Authority (NBSA) has come down heavily on TV18 Broadcast Ltd, which owns English and Hindi news channels CNN-IBN and IBN7, for airing “biased, tendentious and factually incorrect” reports alleging flouting of rules by Haryana government in allocation of land to Rajiv Gandhi Charitable Trust (RGCT). The reports were aired between August 1 and August 5, 2011.
In its December 20 order, NBSA also imposed a fine of Rs 1 lakh upon the broadcaster. NBSA is an independent body operating under the larger umbrella of News Broadcasters Association to promote self-regulation among news channels.
In its complaint filed on September 14, 2011, RGCT, through its CEO Y S P Thorat, complained to NBSA that the channels ran reports alleging discriminatory approach adopted by the Haryana government in allocating land to a chosen few including RGCT. It said the reports wrongly suggested that the government bent laws to benefit the Gandhi family associated with it. It also said the channels did not speak with it before airing the reports.
NBSA, initially, directed RGCT to register its protest with the broadcaster. On being approached, the two channels denied wrongdoing and offered to telecast RGCT’s additional comments if it withdrew its complaint. RGCT declined the offer and approached NBSA again.
NBSA told RGCT that since Punjab and Haryana High Court was hearing cases relating to the issue and RGCT was a respondent in one petition, it cannot entertain the plea. On conclusion of the court proceedings, RGCT approached NBSA in August this year. The body, led by former CJI J S Verma, heard both sides and concluded that the channels got their facts wrong. It asked the two channels to air a written apology with a voice over for five consecutive days beginning December 24.