UK media watchdog fines Khalsa TV for abuse, references to terror
UK media watchdog fines Khalsa TV for abuse, references to terror

A total fine of 50,000 pounds was imposed on Khalsa Television Ltd or KTV in Britain by the UK media watchdog for broadcasting a music video and a discussion programme that was an indirect call for the British Sikh to commit violence and also included a reference to terror.

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

The order also includes a direction for the channel to transmit a statement on a date and in a form to be determined by the watchdog of Ofcom’s findings and also for KTV not to repeat the music video or the discussion programme discovered in violation of its rules.

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In relation to its KTV service, Ofcom has imposed financial penalties of 20,000 pounds and 30,000 pounds on Khalsa Television Limited for failing to comply with our broadcasting rules. A music video refers to the 20,000 pounds penalty. “The penalty of 30,000 pounds relates to a discussion programme,” states the Ofcom decision.

A music video for a song called ‘Bagga and Shera’ was broadcast by KTV on 4, 7, and 9 July 2018. “After its investigation, Ofcom found that the music video was a “indirect call for action to commit violence, up to and including murder, for Sikhs living in the UK.

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It also included brief flashes which revealed frames of on-screen text when slowed down. It seemed to be trying to influence viewers by conveying a message to them or otherwise affecting their minds without being aware of or fully aware of what had happened, which Ofcom discovered was in violation of its broadcasting rules.

On March 30, 2019, the discussion programme in question was aired live as ‘Panthak Masle’.

Ofcom found that the programme provided several guests with a platform to express opinions that amounted to “indirect calls to action and were likely to encourage or incite crime or lead to disorder.”

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“Ofcom also found that it included a reference to the outlawed Babbar Khalsa terrorist organisation and that, in our view, it could be taken as legitimising and normalising its objectives and actions in the eyes of the audience,” it notes.

A picture of former Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was included in the music video in question, which Ofcom noted: “emphasised the narrative of the video advocating violent action against the Indian state.” The discussion programme, which was broadcast in Punjabi, meant Ofcom had to commission a translation from English.

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It stated that KTV was notified of the investigation and did not raise accuracy issues at first, but did so later, 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, consequently, in breach of its code.

KTV describes itself as an exciting channel on its website, broadcasting a variety of cultural, educational, and entertaining programmes for audiences of all ages. It states that it is “completely independent, impartial, and honest.”