Ofcom has fined the Islam Channel £40,000 after it broadcast a documentary which was deemed to have amounted to “hate speech against Jewish people.”
An investigation by the broadcast watchdog found that Islam Channel Limited (“Islam Channel”) had failed to comply with broadcasting rules when in February 2021 it broadcast The Andinia Plan, a one-hour documentary examining a conspiracy theory which originated in a neo-Nazi publication.
The theory, known as the “Andinia Plan”, alleged there was a plan to establish a Jewish state in Patagonia, the southern region of South America governed by Argentina and Chile.
In Ofcom’s Breach Decision, published on 5 December last year, the watchdog found that “this programme amounted to hate speech against Jewish people.”
Ofcom added:”We also found that this antisemitic content was highly offensive and not justified by the context. The programme had therefore breached Rules 3.2 and 2.3 of the Broadcasting Code.”
In addition to the financial penalty of £40,000 to be paid by Islam Channel Ltd to HM Paymaster General, Ofcom confirmed it also directing the channel not to repeat the programme, and to broadcast a statement of Ofcom’s findings on a date and in a form to be determined by Ofcom.
In response to the breach of the broadcasting rules, the Islam Channel said it had been extremely clear throughout its communications with Ofcom that it profoundly regretted the broadcast of The Andinia Plan and that it agreed that its broadcast was in breach of Rules 3.2 and 2.3 of the Code.
It added that it had twice issued full apologies to its audience to this effect, and that it had not contested at any point any of Ofcom’s observations regarding the breaches. It welcomed the recognition the Sanction Preliminary View had given to these factors.
But in response to the threat of a financial penalty, the channel said it was “currently in an extremely weak financial position [and had] been severely impacted by the cost-of-living crisis”.
It said it is “supporting its newly-launched Bangla channel30, as well as dealing with repayment of a high level of debts, accrued from the covid period”, and said any financial penalty could prove an “existential threat to the channel, threatening a very valuable and irreplaceable source of accurate, moderate educational Islamic content, not just valuable to the Muslim community but to British society as a whole”.
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