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Utterly, Butterly, Islamophobic Amul?

Dairy brand Amul is bearing the brunt from the public for advertising on the controversial Sudarshan TV. The channel has had a history of broadcasting anti-muslim news.

A photo mocking Indian brand Amul's advertising on Sudarshan TV
An image circulating on Twitter with the #boycottamul (Source: Twitter)

Popular Indian dairy brand Amul has been facing major heat from netizens for advertising on the Hindi news channel, Sudarshan TV. This came after a controversial broadcast by the channel promoting muslim hate was banned by the Delhi High Court. The hashtag #boycottamul was trending on micro-blogging website Twitter with angry netizens calling out Amul from promoting itself on a channel that spreads communal hatred.

The outrage started when editor of the Noida based Sudarshan TV, Suresh Chavhanke tweeted a 45 second trailer of their upcoming show, ‘Bindas Bol’. As claimed by Chavhanke in the trailer, the show was an “expose” on the infiltration of Muslims in Civil Services. He went on to call the students passing out of Jamia’s Residential Coaching Academy and clearing Union Public Service Commission exams as “Jamia ke Jihadi”. The trailer instantly caught the eye of government officials and the matter was taken to court. Considering the time sensitivity involved in the matter, the single judge bench of Justice Navin Chawla ordered a stay on the broadcast of Sudarshan TVs program. Further, a notice was issued to the Central Government regarding the channel. Thus, the 08:00pm telecast of the full show was restrained.

Amul came into the picture as the brand is known to advertise on the channel in question with a part of the Amul advertisement playing at the end of the trailer. Users slammed the company using its tagline “Taste of India” calling the company “Waste of India”. Users frequently tagged the official handle of ‘stop funding hate’, a global campaign that aims to stop companies from advertising or funding organizations that promote hateful or divisive content. In an interview with Mint, Managing Director of Gujarat Co-operative Milk Marketing Federation and owner of Amul, R.S Sodhi said that he does not want the company to get into any controversy. Regarding the possible reason for such a blunder by the brand, Partho Dasgupta a management consultant and the former CEO of Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) India(a television ratings agency) said,

“Brands which invest in advertising on news channels often do not look at specific content unless it's for sponsorship of a program.”

Considering Amul’s position at the moment, the brand could only be hoping that the matter dies down with time. The brand may blacklist the advertiser for further business. Complete withdrawal of advertising at the moment may show that the brand is at fault. Whether the brand knew the content or did not, the damage is done and Amul will have to respond to a nation of loyal customers. The case of Amul also sets an example for other companies who will reconsider their advertising strategy and channel content before associating with them.

The Sudarshan TV case begs to question the regulation of broadcast content. In a world where citizen generated content such as tweets, Facebook posts and Instagram posts are monitored and instantly reported or flagged if they are inappropriate for the public, broadcast television seems to get away relatively easily with polarizing content. Given today's media scenario India, viewer discretion and fact checking with other sources is highly advised.

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