Who owns British Broadcasting Corporation? A look back on BBC controversies in India


BBC documentary row: Who owns British Broadcasting Corporation? A look back on BBC controversies in India

After the release of the controversial BBC documentary on the 2002 Gujarat riots and the alleged links with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a huge political uproar was sparked in India, with the opposition parties and Centre in a head-to-head battle.

The Modi government-led Centre blocked the screening of the BBC documentary ‘India: The Modi Question’ in the country, with directions issued to YouTube and Twitter to ban handles and accounts which are sharing clips and links of the two-part film.

Meanwhile, the opposition has slammed Centre and BJP for the ban on the BBC documentary, accusing the government of censorship. The Ministry of External Affairs, however, dubbed the documentary as a propaganda film and slammed the contents of the BBC venture.

Who owns the British Broadcasting Corporation? Know how it works

The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) is a publicly owned and funded broadcasting system in the United Kingdom. The BBC operates under the Royal Charter, an instrument of incorporation granted by the ruling monarch.

This means that the workings of BBC are linked with the UK government and monarchy, and has been issued the objectives of “providing duly accurate and impartial news, current affairs and factual programming to build people’s understanding of all parts of the United Kingdom and of the wider world.”

BBC’s past controversies on Indian issues

Two documentary films released by BBC in the 1970s – Calcutta and Phantom India – sparked a major controversy in India after they were screened on British television. The documentary contained several sketches of everyday life in India, which showed the country in a negative light.

This lead to a massive backlash from the Indian diaspora in Britain and led to BBC being banned in India by the Congress-led central government till 1972. The second time that BBC was expelled was in 1975 when Prime Minister Indira Gandhi declared an Emergency.

The second time that BBC sparked controversy in India was in 2008 when a panorama show was run on the network showing instances of child labour. This led to a major backlash by the Indian administration and the story later turned out to be fake.

It was reported that an investigative reporting programme had faked the footage of children working in sweatshops and stitching clothes, ultimately showing India in a bad light.

READ | BBC documentary row explained: Why ‘India-The Modi Question’ is sparking a political row between BJP, Congress

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