Broadcasting antisemitic content in the UK can be expensive. Mohiuddin Digital Television learned this when its UK television station, Noor TV, aired an Urdu-language program condoning the killing of Jewish people.
The price tag for that hateful comment was £75,000, the amount of the fine levied on the network by UK broadcast regulator OfCom. In a recent ruling, OfCom sanctioned Noor TV for its Nov. 17, 2015 program about a festival in Pakistan called Urs Nehrian. One of the 15 religious scholars said in the program that the Prophet Muhammed told his followers, “Whoever amongst you comes across a Jew, they should slay him immediately.”
According to OfCom, the scholar Allama Mufti Muhammad Saeed Sialvi Sahib “then recounted how one individual immediately killed a Jewish trader with whom he had long standing business relations. The speaker held this out as the highest form of religious obedience.”
OfCom ruled that the comments could “be interpreted as spreading anti-Semitism.” Because the TV station didn’t include or later provide any context to the comments, they were deemed inappropriate.
“In OfCom’s opinion there would need to be very strong, if not exceptional, contextual factors to justify the inclusion of such highly offensive and discriminatory anti-Semitic material,” the regulator ruled. OfCom also noted that the comment and program was pre-recorded so Noor TV could have prevented the broadcast.
Noor TV noted that it did apologize on air and told OfCom it “understood” why it would be penalized. The media regulator reminded Noor TV that several years ago its then-owner Al Ehya was fined for broadcasting inappropriate material — first, in 2011, a promise that viewers who donated would get prayers or a gift from Mohammed, and second, in 2012, when a live program’s host condoned murder.
In addition to the hefty fine, Noor TV also has to air a statement about OfCom’s ruling. iMediaEthics has written to Noor TV for comment.