After long delay, NBSA orders Times Now to air apology to activist Sanjukta Basu

The news channel made objectionable comments about her during a 2018 debate

After long delay, NBSA orders Times Now to air apology to activist Sanjukta Basu

NH Web Desk

After a long delay, the News Broadcasting Standards Authority (NBSA) has directed Times Now TV to air an apology to author and social activist Sanjukta Basu for making objectionable comments about her during a debate in April 2018.

Author and social activist Sanjukta Basu had approached the Supreme Court to intervene in the Sudarshan TV case, alleging that her complaint before the News Broadcasting Standards Authority (NBSA) filed in March 2019 continued to be pending till date.

The Bench of Justices DY Chandrachud, Indu Malhotra and Indira Banerjee is set to resume the hearing in the Sudarshan TV matter on Monday.

On September 15, the Court directed Sudarshan TV to defer the broadcast of its programme touted as a ''big expose on the conspiracy" regarding Muslims "infiltrating government service", until further orders.

Times Now ran a defamatory programme about the author and social activist on April 6, 2018. The channel referred to her in its shows as “Hindu hater”, “vile troll” and claimed that she was a part of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s “troll army”, the order said. It added that the channel did not contact to get her version and also did not verify the facts before broadcasting thereby violating the association’s guidelines, said the broadcasting authority.

As per the Order Times Now is directed to air an apology on October 27, 2020, at 9 pm the following text on full screen in large font size with a clearly audible voice-over (in slow speed) an unconditional apology stating: “We regret that in the programmes aired on 6.4.2018 -'India Upfront'@ 8 pm and 'The Newshour Debate'@ 9 pm on Times Now channel, we had not taken the version of the complainant, Sanjukta Basu, thereby violating the principles relating to impartiality and objectivity and ensuring neutrality and fairness in reporting. We clarify that there was no intention to bring disrepute to Ms. Sanjukta Basu.”

The authority has further asked the channel to remove any video of the broadcast from its website, YouTube or any other links and submit it in writing to NBSA.

The news channel has also been asked to submit the compact disc, or CD, containing the apology telecast with date and time within one week of airing as a mark of compliance, the order said.

Further, Times Now has to share the order with the media, members of News Broadcasters Association and also put it on its website and include it in its annual report.

Terming it as a first milestone, Sanjukta Basu said, In pursuing my case I've come across many weaknesses in the way NBSA functions and it is an irony that in front of Supreme Court and Bombay High Court, NBSA and the Union of India have been arguing that NBSA is already a robust body for broadcast media standards and grievance redressal and no improvement is required. This is simply not true, as my case shows that there are many questions that remain unanswered. To begin with, why did it take them 15 months to give a judgment when their mandate is to settle complaints in 3 months, and how come in just 24 hours of my moving SC they released the order? Where are the transparency and accountability measures?

Basu wrote on Twitter: This fight started when I met @RahulGandhi. That's how historic this is :) RG met me and few other social media influencers. @TimesNow labelled me "Hindu hater" "troll army" to embarrass him. Far from embarrassment RG decided to follow me. Today Times Now is punished. We won, Sanjukta Basu tweeted.

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