KTV fined £50,000 for
serious breaches

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LONDON: Ofcom is to impose fines totalling £50,000 on Khalsa Television Limited (KTV) for a “serious breach” of broadcasting rules.

An investigation by the regulator found KTV, which broadcasts to the UK’s Sikh community, ran a music video that indirectly encouraged Sikhs living in the UK to commit violence, including murder, against people opposed to the Khalistan Liberation Front.

The video was found to contain subliminal harmful messages in an apparent attempt to influence viewers without them being aware.

A second investigation found that a live discussion programme, Panthak Masle, featured a number of statements which were likely to incite crime or lead to disorder. This included material which amounted to implicit threats of violence towards Harnek Singh, a Sikh radio presenter living in New Zealand.

KTV has been fined KTV £20,000 in respect of the music video and £30,000 in respect of the discussion programme. Its been ordered not to air the music video or discussion programme again and broadcast a summary of Ofcom’s decision at a time of the regulator’s choosing.

Music video

According to details, on 4, 7 and 9 July 2018, KTV broadcast a music video for a song called Bagga and Shera. In our Decision published on 25 February 2019 in issue 373 of the Broadcast and On Demand Bulletin (PDF, 1.6 MB), Ofcom found that the music video was an indirect call to action for Sikhs living in the UK to commit violence, up to and including murder. It also included brief flashes, which, when slowed down, revealed frames of on-screen text. It appeared therefore to be seeking to influence viewers by conveying a message to them or otherwise influencing their minds without their being aware, or fully aware, of what has occurred. Ofcom found this content breached Rules 2.3, 2.11 and 3.1 of the Broadcasting Code.

Discussion programme

Ofcom Letter

On 30 March 2019, KTV broadcast a live discussion programme, Panthak Masle. In our Decision published on 18 November 2019 in issue 391 of the Bulletin (PDF, 832.5 KB), Ofcom found that this programme provided a platform for several guests to express views which amounted to indirect calls to action and were likely to encourage or incite the commission of crime or lead to disorder. Ofcom also found that it included a reference to the proscribed terrorist organisation the Babbar Khalsa, and which in our view could be taken as legitimising it and normalising its aims and actions in the eyes of viewers. Ofcom found this programme breached Rules 2.1, 2.3 and 3.1 of the Broadcasting Code.

Sanctions

Ofcom has imposed the following sanctions on the Licensee:

financial penalties of £20,000 and £30,000;