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Ministry notice to Red FM station

Special Correspondent

Channel and RJ issue apologies

NEW DELHI: Acting on a request from the West Bengal Government, the Union Information & Broadcasting (I&B) Ministry issued a show cause notice to Red FM radio station on Saturday after finding that it had prima facie violated the programme code by making derogatory remarks about the Gorkha community in one of its programmes.

The radio station has been given time till 4 p.m. on October 1 to explain why action should not be taken against it.

The show cause notice comes a day after a clash broke out in Siliguri between fans of Prashant Tamang — winner of the television channel-sponsored music talent show ‘Indian Idol’ — and local residents over a comment made about his community by radio jockey (RJ) Nitin in a programme which went on the air on September 24.

While Mr. Nitin had apologised to Mr. Tamang earlier, Red FM tendered an apology on Saturday and clarified that “we have not intentionally caused hurt to the sentiments of any person or any particular community, caste or creed.”

The Red FM statement also suggests that some vested interests were fuelling the protests.

“It is unfortunate that some vested interests are seeking to make political capital out of an innocuous comment made during the morning show and which has been taken out of context.”

“Racist and insulting”

The West Bengal Government has been in touch with the Centre on this issue after the Gorkha community reacted strongly to the remarks by the RJ protesting the stereotyping as “racist and insulting.”

According to the Ministry, general strikes had been called in several places including Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Sukna in protest against the remark, and the Army and the para-military forces had to be called in to restore normality.

While issuing the show cause notice, the Ministry has pointed out that Paragraph 11.2 of the Grant of Permission to Digital Radio (Delhi) Broadcasting Limited — which runs Radio FM — mandates that the company follow the programme code of All India Radio “which prohibits any programmes attacking communities, anything defamatory, incitement to violence and anything against law and order.”

In its statement, Red FM also sought to underline the fact that it had supported Mr. Tamang’s journey in the talent hunt for crooners from the very start.

Elaborating on the network’s programme code, the statement said: “Our shows and RJs use humour and satire in their presentation. There is nothing deliberate or intentional in anything that they do.”

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