NBSA Rejects ZEE News’ Revision, Channel Must Apologise to Gauhar Raza

Written by Sabrangindia Staff | Published on: February 10, 2018
The National Broadcasting Standards Authority (NBSA) has rejected Zee News revision petition in the Gauhar Raza Mushaira case. Zee News has been asked to display an apology for the obnoxious coverage on the poet scientist. The apology was ordered to be displayed on February 16,.2018 at 9 pm and further, the channel has been asked to deposit Rs 1 lakh within seven days. Zee was asked to do the same earlier but they had gone into an appeal. The appeal stands has been now rejected.

Gauhar Raza

In September 2017, the autonomous News Broadcasting Standards Authority (NBSA) has passed an order directing Zee News to pay a fine of Rs 1 lakh and telecast a public apology during Prime Time to poet and scientist Gauhar Raza for branding him as an “anti-national”.

The fine was to be paid within 7 days. The apology was to have been published on September 8 at 9 p.m. on Zee News, “in Hindi text, in large font size, on full screen, and a clearly audible vioce over in slow speed”.

Zee News had telecast a programme titled ‘Afzal [Guru] Premi Gang’ several times in March last year in which derogatory statements were made against participants in the ‘Shankar-Shaad Mushaira’, held annually to promote Indo-Pak friendship.

An outraged Raza had filed a complaint with the NBSA alleging that he had been “maligned, defamed and hate engineered against him by the malicious, concocted and motivated news telecast carried by Zee News.” The complaint said the programme had aired only selected portions of some of his poems and branded him “anti-national” on the basis of prejudice and malice.    

A joint complaint was filed simultaneously by eminent artists like Ashok Vajpeyi, Shubha Mudgal, Sharmila Tagore and Syeda Hameed. Advocate Vrinda Grover argued on behalf of Raza and other complainants.

The NBSA order had observed: “The broadcaster had failed to give an opportunity to professor Gauhar Raza, who was being reported upon, to give his version/views; broadcasting a programme using the footage of JNU incidents with the poetry recital of Raza and giving title to the programme as ‘Afzal Premi Gang ka Mushaira’ was highly inappropriate and derogatory as mere reference by Prof. Gauhar Raza while reciting poetry to ‘Kanhaiya’, ‘Nehru University’ and ‘Rohit Vemula’, could not be a ground to brand the poet, the organizers of Mushaira and the audience as Afzal Premi Gang.”

A press statement then issued by Raza said “the NBSA has awarded the highest punishment in its jurisdiction, reaffirming that big media houses cannot trample over the rights of citizens to freedom of speech and expression, which includes the right to dissent”.