News channels must run disclaimers before/after broadcasting ‘hate speech’ #CallOutHate

News channels must run disclaimers before/after broadcasting ‘hate speech’ #CallOutHate

3,136 have signed. Let’s get to 5,000!
Petition to
News Broadcasting and Digital Standards Authority (NBDSA)

Why this petition matters

Started by Jeet G

Recently, at a so-called ‘Dharam Sansad’ – literally ‘Religious Parliament’ – in Haridwar, a militant Hindu ‘priest’ called for a genocide of Muslims. Few news channels broadcast that hate speech with the seriousness and caution it merited. Most TV journalists sidestepped debating the threat such hateful statements pose to the law and order situation of the country. 

Sign my petition to ask news channels to call out hate, upfront!

Today, most news channels are kowtowing to the ruling government. So we can’t expect news anchors to call out this hate. But what if there’s a rule that mandates news channels to run a DISCLAIMER before/after broadcasting any hateful statement by a political leader? 

It’s not something unthought of. In fact, NDTV broadcast the Haridwar hate speech with such a disclaimer. Zee News, NDTV, India Today, News Nation, CNN-News18: all are members of the News Broadcasters & Digital Association (NBDA). All of them broadcast the Haridwar Dharam Sansad. But only NDTV displayed the sensibility of informing users that what they were seeing was ‘hate speech’, which is a cognisable offence under Indian law.

In a recent video, T Raja Singh, a Telangana MLA from the BJP, threatened voters in Uttar Pradesh of “JCBs (bulldozers) coming for them” if they didn’t vote for the incumbent chief minister Yogi Adityanath. “You know what JCBs are for, right?” he subtly threatened in the video. 

In a recent interview to Aaj Tak, Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath used the slur ‘Kathmulla’, which is used to refer to Muslims. 

Unfortunately, this tendency for rabble-rousing runs across political lines. News channels, by broadcasting such statements, unwittingly become the vectors of communal poison. 

News outlets have to obviously report what a political leader or any person in the public eye is saying. But they should have the editorial discretion of determining that a particular statement possibly runs afoul of the ‘hate speech’ law, and inform their viewers about the same. 

Those who’ll say that news channels should remain impartial and not decide what constitutes hate speech, should look at what Former Supreme Court judge Justice Madan Lokur said. "We have had, in Delhi, a minister not a Cabinet minister but now he has become a cabinet minister saying 'Goli Maaro'. What is that if not incitement to kill,” Lokur said last month. 

The News Broadcasting Standards Authority should look at making this disclaimer before/after broadcasting hate speech, an industry-wide mandate for news channels that are members of NBDA.

Hateful statements made in the public, which are then circulated on social media, contribute immensely to communal strife. The days and weeks leading up to the Delhi Riots of 2020 saw several political leaders indulge in hate speech with a microphone in their hands. Their statements, often with a call to violence, were magnified through social media.

That news channels haven't thought of running a disclaimer before broadcasting such vile statements just baffles me. Our films can’t get away with scenes of smoking cigarettes without a disclaimer. News channels claim to broadcast everything in “public interest”. I believe running such a disclaimer and informing viewers of the distinction between a ‘political speech’ and ‘hate speech’ is of paramount importance.

Sign my petition to ask news channels to run disclaimers before/after broadcasting hate speech.

3,136 have signed. Let’s get to 5,000!