In a plea filed by TV Today Network, which runs India Today channel, against an order of Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) before the Bombay High Court, the court directed the media giant to deposit the fine of Rs 5 lakh imposed by BARC order in order to avail interim protection from possible coercive action. According to a report of Bar and Bench, TV Today had approached the court seeking directions to quash the order of BARC Disciplinary Council imposing fine on for ‘viewership malpractice’.
The plea was heard by a bench of Justices Nitin Jamdar and Milind Jadhav yesterday. The court said that without prejudice to the rights and contentions of TV Today Network, the media group was directed to deposit the amount of fine in the registry of the Court. It further said that if the fine amount was deposited there would no coercive action against it.
In the plea, the BARC order was challenged on the ground that BARC had failed to show evidence to prove the allegations against TV Today and that the order was ‘unreasoned’. The plea further contended that BARC did not upload any report of an independent audit process that it might have carried out to detect viewership malpractice as was required under the guidelines of the Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. The court adjourned the matter till November 5 after Advocates Ashish Kamath and Thomas George, appearing on behalf of BARC, told the court that a similar matter against BARC was listed for hearing on the same day.
BARC order holding India Today guilty of viewership malpractice
OpIndia was the first to expose the matter regarding the show-cause notice being sent to TV Today Network by BARC in April this year. In an exclusive report by OpIndia, it was revealed that TV Today Network had failed to provide a satisfactory answer to the BARC Disciplinary Council (BDC) as to the “abnormal” and “inexplicable” increase in India Today’s TRPs. The BDC had passed an order imposing a fine of Rs 5 lakh on the media network for viewership malpractice. India Today Group had had later issued a statement admitting that it was fined by BARC for viewership malpractice. In its statement, the Group had accused BARC of leaking confidential hearings.
India Today named in current TRP scam
India Today is again in the dock after a complaint by Hansa Research, the company that manages the Bar-O-meters of BARC, alleged that the channel was bribing households with the meters installed to watch their channel for at least 2 hours a day. The matter had exploded after Mumbai Police Commissioner had revealed about the TRP scam earlier this month, but named Republic TV instead. But soon, the report by Hansa Research and the FIR filed based on it were accessed by Republic TV, which showed that India Today was named in the case, not Republic.