Republic TV has issued a 24-hour notice to Mid-Day and Economic Times and the Bennett, Coleman and Company Limited to issue an apology and corrigendum (in print, on digital platforms, and across its official social media handles) over a report where it alleged that Hansa Research Group Pvt Ltd (‘Hansa Research’) had paid money to the Republic Media Network.
The news in the Economic Times and other portals
As per the report published on several news portals including Economic Times, a senior police officer of the Mumbai Police has claimed that Hansa has made a payment of 32 Lakh to Republic TV. The report claimed that while Hansa’s director said he was not aware of the payment completed, Republic TV CFO S Sundaram has accepted that the company had received the payment of 32 lakh from Hansa. However, Sundaram said he could not recall the details, and he would get back on the same, the report said.
The report further added that as advertisers and investors rely heavily on TRPs to decide which channel to choose for advertising, such ‘scams’ result in ‘national loss of thousands of crores of rupees to the advertisers.’
Republic TV demands an explanation and apology
In a press statement, Republic TV said that media publications, including Mid-Day, Economic Times, and others, are running a fake story making unsubstantiated accusations about the payment of Rs. 32 Lakh. The statement further added that publications have falsely cited the CFO of the Republic Media Network to make “scurrilous, unverified and malafide assertions.”
Republic TV said, “It is categorically clarified that Hansa Research has never done any business with Republic. The articles that have pedaled the fake story are completely wrong, bereft of facts, prima facie planted by the Mumbai Police and certainly published without basic verification by the respective media houses concerned. In the seeming hunger to plant and run fake news, all sense of balance seems to have been lost by a section of the media.”
The payment was for an on-air advertisement
Republic TV mentioned in the statement that the payment was made by Hansa Vision to Republic in lieu of the on-air advertising done for the period of October 2017 to October 2018. “To put the record straight: all channels receive advertising from media buying companies and that is not a crime. These facts are completely legitimate and in the open, backed by way of documentation for every transaction relating to it,” it further added.
The advertising contracts and payments are the norms in the news industry. There is nothing illegal in that. “To use this advertising payment to another entity, to twist and craft a lie about companies paying Republic to increase Republic’s ratings, is not just absurd but also malafide.”
Republic TV has said that if the media publications and Mumbai Police do not reply in the designated time frame, it will take appropriate legal action. They have issued an official letter to the Mumbai Police to deny or confirm the story. It also added, “The Honourable Supreme Court has cautioned against irresponsible public statements, but it is evident that the Mumbai Police isn’t complying with their observations.”
Republic TV said that the Mumbai Police have failed to understand the difference between the media agency Hansa Vision and the company Hansa Research while cooking up the story for their vendetta campaign against Republic. It said the department “have resorted to plant fake stories bereft of fact, logic and substance”.
Rebutting to the fake narrative against them, Republic said, “We are appalled that the “legacy” news organisations carrying this fake news story didn’t care to run even a basic fact check before the story was published. In that, the very fundamentals of journalism have been overlooked in what seems like the thrill to publicise a fake narrative against the Republic Media Network.” It further added that unlike certain sections of the media, Republic Media Network is proudly transparent, our ownership is public, our transactions are clean, and our bank balances are in the open.