Ofcom has today opened seven new investigations into the due impartiality of news and current
affairs programmes on the RT news channel.
The investigations (PDF, 240.5 KB) form part of an Ofcom update, published today, into the licences held by TV Novosti, the company that broadcasts RT.
Until recently, TV Novosti's overall compliance record has not been materially out of line with other broadcasters.
However, since the events in Salisbury, we have observed a significant increase in the number of programmes on the RT service that warrant investigation as potential breaches of the Ofcom Broadcasting Code.
We will announce the outcome of these investigations as soon as possible. In relation to our fit and proper duty, we will consider all relevant new evidence, including the outcome of these investigations and the future conduct of the licensee.
Steve Allen presents the early weekday morning breakfast show between 04:00 and 07:00 on the speech based radio station LBC 97.3FM. The format of the programme is based on the presenter expressing his views on a range of topical issues and
encouraging listeners to interact and express their opinions via text message and online.
A listener complained that presenter Steve Allen made discriminatory comments about the traveller community during this programme.
We noted that during the programme, the presenter, Mr Allen, made reference to a news story in which businesses in the village of Parkend, Gloucestershire, were instructed by police to close following violent disturbances from a group of visitors
to a holiday village. Mr Allen said the following:
“’Brawling travellers shut down a holiday village’. Why do we have to start being nice to travellers? Every time I read a story in the newspaper its either thieving, robbing or brawling. And this one was terrible, all the businesses had to close
and everything else. We had them moving in to a hospital car park a short while ago, it was all very odd. What is the matter with them? What is the matter with them?”
We considered Rule 2.3:
“In applying generally accepted standards broadcasters must ensure that material which may cause offence is justified by the context…”.
Ofcom decision: Breach of rule 2.3
Mr Allen was responding to a news story about violent disorder in a Gloucestershire town which, according to the Licensee, Mr Allen had believed at the time referred to members from the travelling community.As a result, Mr Allen went on to ask
Why do we have to start being nice to travellers? Every time I read a story in the newspaper its either thieving, robbing or brawling206what is the matter with them? What is the matter with them?
In Ofcom's view, these remarks could be interpreted as offering a highly pejorative and generalised view about members of the traveller community, a protected racial group under the Equality Act 2010, and as such had the potential to cause offence
to listeners. The likely level of offence in this case would have been increased by Mr Allen's repeated and emphatic use of the rhetorical question what is the matter with them?. In our view, this would have served to reinforce Steve Allen's
attribution of a clearly negative stereotype of certain forms of anti-social and criminal behaviour (i.e. thieving, robbing or brawling) to all members of the travelling community.
Radio Ikhlas, 7 September 2017, 15:50
Radio Ikhlas is a community radio station serving the Asian (primarily Pakistani) community and other smaller ethnic communities in the Normanton area of Derby.
Ofcom received a complaint that the above programme included statements that constituted hatred against the Ahmadiyya community. The Ahmadi movement identifies itself as a Muslim movement, which follows the teachings of the Qur'an. However, it is
regarded as heretical by orthodox Islam since they differ on the interpretation of the finality of prophethood. There are Ahmadiyya communities around the world. They face restrictions in many Muslim countries and are described in publicly
available reports as one of the persecuted communities in Pakistan. There have been reports of discrimination and threats against the community in the UK.
With a long and in-depth explanation, Ofcom took the view that the broadcast contained material which amounted to abusive or derogatory treatment of the Ahmadiyya community and their religious beliefs. Ofcom added:
We consider these breaches are very serious and we are putting the Licensee on notice that we will consider these breaches for the imposition of a statutory sanction.
Content relating to Burhan Wani
Prime TV, 6 July 2017, 18:34 onwards
Prime TV is a general entertainment satellite channel aimed at the Pakistani community in the UK and Europe.
Ofcom received a complaint that, during a broadcast of a current affairs programme, a social media campaign was repeatedly promoted to commemorate the first anniversary of the death of the Hizbul Mujahideen1 military leader Burhan Wani. The
complainant expressed concern that the campaign was supporting a terrorist leader and encouraging terrorism in Indian administered Kashmir.
Ofcom again found the broadcaster to be in breach of Ofcom rules but this wasn't considered a breach that would be taken any further. Ofcom said:
Ofcom understands that while some members of the Kashmiri community may revere Burhan Wani, and the terrorist organisation he led, this view is far from universal. Therefore, the fact that some viewers may have perceived Burhan Wani to be a
martyr or that the anniversary of his death was being promoted on various Pakistani media outlets, did not, in our view, justify Express TV broadcasting this content without challenge or other context. Similarly, the fact that this content was
not the Licensee's own production or the fact that Express TV considered there was no clarity so far on the UK Government's view on Burhan Wani did not justify the broadcast of the content in this case. Hizbul Mujahideen, the group of which
Burhan Wani was a member, has been designated as a terrorist organisation by the EU, India and the US. Therefore, we considered the Licensee could, and should, have been aware of Burhan Wani's controversial status both within Kashmir and outside.
Ofcom is concerned that Express TV broadcast content expressing such strong, unchallenged support for, and glorification of, Burhan Wani and his violent actions as leader of a group which has been designated a terrorist organisation in various
countries. This support was capable, in our view, of causing considerable offence.