India has been dealing with fake news for a long time and many TV news channels have contributed to it. One such news organisation is Zee News. Police, independent fact-checking websites, and media critics have called out Zee News for spreading lies and misreporting on multiple occasions.
In a recent case, on May 7, Kozhikode Kasaba Police Station, Kerala filed an FIR against Zee News Editor-in-Chief and anchor, Sudhir Chaudhary, accusing him of insulting religious beliefs of Muslims in his show 'DNA'.
On March 11 in his prime time show DNA, Chaudhary used a diagram, breaking down the ways Muslims allegedly are waging "jihad" on Hindus in India, such as "population jihad", "love jihad" and "land jihad", "economic jihad", "history jihad" and "media jihad".
The chart was later found to be a copy-paste work from a Facebook page called Boycott Halal India. But it's not for the first time the channel has been called out for spreading communally divisive content as news. Here are the four instances where the channel peddled fake news.
Police Call Out Zee News' Fake Reports
On April 10, Zee News reported that the entire northeast has 11 coronavirus patients who can be traced back to Tablighi Jamaat event in March.
The Arunachal Pradesh Information and Public Relations department called out the channel for the same and clarified that the report did not reveal the facts.
This is to clarify that Arunachal Pradesh has got only 1 COVID-19 positive case till date.— ARUNACHAL IPR (@ArunachalDIPR) April 9, 2020
The reporting by Zeenews is false and does not carry any authenticity. pic.twitter.com/d74hBGDWbd
The channel later issued an apology for reporting fake news. Post the incident, netizens slammed the channel, questioning if a 'sorry' was enough for inciting hatred.
Firozabad Police Calls Out Fake Report
On April 6, Zee News published a news report about a medical team in Uttar Pradesh, escorting coronavirus-positive Tablighi Jamaat members allegedly being pelted with stones. The Firozabad Police took to twitter, reporting the media report as a hoax, and warned the channel to remove its tweet based on the report.
आपके द्वारा असत्य एवं भ्रामक खबर फैलायी जा रही है जबकि जनपद फिरोजाबाद में न तो किसी मैडीकल टीम एवं न ही एम्बूलेंस गाडी पर किसी तरह का पथराव नहीं किया गया है । आप अपने द्वारा किये गये ट्विट को तत्काल डिलीट करें ।— Firozabad Police (@firozabadpolice) April 6, 2020
Fake Report On Dawood Ibrahim's Property
On January 4, 2017, Zee News reported about a raid conducted on underworld don Dawood Ibrahim's property, worth 15,000 of assets, by the UAE officials, which was later denied by the Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates, as reported by The Hindu.
The channel cited a BJP member's tweet as a source for the report.
Fake Report On Crown Prince Of UAE Chanting 'Jay Siya Ram'
In 2018, during PM Modi's trip to UAE, Zee News picked up a Times Now report which claimed that 'Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan' started his speech with 'Jai Siya Ram'. It was later found out that the person in the video was Sultan Sooud Al Qassemi, a United Arab Emirates-based columnist and commentator on Arab affairs.
Not only netizens but the UAE Embassy New Delhi also pointed out the error and questioned the organisation's basic fact check responsibility before publishing. This was also pointed by gulf news.
Former Employee Reveals Truth
Nasir Azmi, former head of video content at Zee Media, who resigned from the channel talked about the "one-sided reporting" and a contradiction between the "organization's stance and its editorial decisions".
He especially pointed out Chaudhary's reporting on protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act in December 2019. In his letter to the Zee Group's Chairman Shubhash Chandra, Azmi wrote about how the organisation has failed in its responsibilities. He specially mentioned the reporting of the channel during anti-Citizenship Amendment Act protest Jamia Milia Islamia, JNU and so forth.