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Maharashtra govt and police acting in malice and conspiracy: Republic TV stands its ground on TRP scam propaganda, approaches SC

Republic TV concluded by vowing that they would "fight this tooth and nail and win this— both in the courts of law and in the courts of public opinion".

Republic TV has decided to take the Maharastra police and Uddhav Thackeray government head-on after it tried to implicate the media giant in a false “TRP manipulation” case. The media network has come out with a news release, in which it said: “Acting in malice and conspiracy, the Mumbai Police and the Maharashtra Government on Thursday afternoon launched a fake case against us, without even doing a preliminary investigation”. Saying so the media house has vowed to fight this “witch-hunt” tooth and nail and win it.

It said that the largest news network in India, which reaches over 25 crore viewers every week in English broadcast, Hindi broadcast and on the Digital space, is being targeted and this is because Republic TV has struck the wrong chord with the Shiv Sena government in Maharashtra, by persistently pursuing Sushant Singh Rajput’s death case and the Palghar lynching case.

Mumbai Police covers-up for India Today

The news release said that the Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh in a bizarre press conference made the false allegation against the network. When it was exposed that the FIR was against India Today, the Mumbai Police tried to do a hasty explanation. The Mumbai Police Joint Commissioner went on-air on India Today (the channel to whom they’d given a clean chit in 12 hours) saying there was no evidence against India Today. Saying so Republic Network has listed evidence in its news release to expose how channels like India Today are receiving the protection of the Mumbai Police and the  Maharashtra Government.

The evidences presented by Republic TV are as follows:

  1. The FIR which mentions the grave charges in the TRP Scam names India Today 6 times.
  2. The key witness in the case has gone on-record making allegations against India Today. She has cleared that Vishal Bhandari- the Relationship Manager of the Hansa Research Group Private Limited had directed her son to watch India Today to illegally increase their TRP. This is strong evidence against India today, said Republic Network.
  3. India Today was held guilty of viewership malpractice and a show-cause notice was issued to them on April 27, 2020, and was asked to pay Rs 5,00,000 fine to BARC.
  4. The serious observations of the BARC’s Disciplinary Committee headed by Honourable Justice Mukul Mudgal, former Chief Justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, established that India Today was found guilty of rigging TRPs.

While Mumbai CP busy preparing an escape route for India Today, Republic TV receives open threats from Shiv Sena govt

It said that Mumbai police commissioner has been working overtime to conjure up an escape plan for India Today after its malpractices have been exposed. This, it said cleared Param Bir Singh’s malice and political agenda.

The news release also said that the media house would like to put on record that they are being openly threatened Maharashtra Government Minister Anil Parab and top Shiv Sena leader Sunil Raut.

It furthered that Republic Media Network would also like to place on record that the Mumbai Police Commissioner’s action is in continuation to the witch-hunt of the Maharashtra Government and Shiv Sena, which on 10 September 2020 issued a warning to all cable distributors not to carry channels of the Republic Media Network or else face consequences.

We would fight this tooth and nail and win this: Republic TV

The channel informed that to fight this “atrocious witch-hunt” Republic TV has approached the Supreme Court and also served notices of our legal action to the Maharashtra Government.

In the news release, the media giant warned channels like India Today, who today are enjoying the protection of the Mumbai Police and the  Maharashtra Government. It said that tomorrow if they start doing independent journalism, they might find themselves on the other side of the fence. It also warned those channels which are exulting at this open targeting, should know that this is setting a precedent for the future.

Republic Network concluded by vowing that they would “fight this tooth and nail and win this— both in the courts of law and in the courts of public opinion”.

Republic TV journalist thereafter CFO summoned by Mumbai police

It is pertinent to note here that after Mumabi police’s efforts to malign Republic TV fell flat, it has started indiscriminately sending summons to the channel’s employees. First a summon was sent to Pradeep Bhandari- the consulting editor of the media network who has been extensively reporting the Sushant Singh Rajput death case. And today, the Mumbai police issued summons to Republic TV’s Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Shiva Subramaniam Sundaram in connection to the controversial ‘TRP scam’ where originally, in the FIR related to the case, only India Today was mentioned and not Republic TV.

Arnab Goswami calls the false ‘TRP scam’ case nothing but political vendetta

Interestingly, the ‘fake TRP scam’, which was concocted to malign Republic TV laid bare in less than 24 hours. It all started with the Mumbai Police commissioner coming on record and accusing Republic TV of manipulating TRPs. In a no-holds-barred attack against Republic TV and Arnab Goswami, the Mumbai CP claimed, that the channel had illegally paid some households to keep some channels on even if they were not at home to boost their TRP.

However, by the end of the day, it was revealed that in the original FIR, Republic TV did not find a mention anywhere. In fact, it was India Today that had been named in the original FIR. The Joint Commissioner had also admitted that it was indeed India Today that was named in the FIR. Later, talking to Republic TV journalist, a witness in the case had confirmed that her son was indeed asked by the accused persons in the case to watch India Today to illegally increase their TRP. However, the Mumbai Police has still decided to investigate Republic TV and not India Today. The Mumbai police gave a questionable reason for this saying that while the original complaint by Hans and the FIR by police named India Today, the witnesses in the case later named Republic TV.

Later, in an OpIndia exclusive news break, it emerged that India Today had been held guilty of ‘viewership malpractice’ back on July 31st and was asked to pay a penalty of Rs 5,00,000 to BARC by the BARC Vigilance Council. India Today, after several hours of the news break, published a statement where they admitted that they were indeed fined for viewership manipulation but said that they will take legal action against BARC since their involvement in the scam was meant to be ‘confidential’.

On his part, Arnab Goswami has said that this is nothing but the political vendetta against his channel since he has been asking tough questions of the Mumbai Police and the Uddhav Thackeray government over the Sushant Singh Rajput death and the Palghar lynching of two sadhus.

It is to be recalled that over 200 FIRs were filed against Arnab Goswami by Congress after his coverage of the Palghar lynching case and the Mumbai Police had interrogated him and the CFO of Republic TV for hours.

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Staff reporter at OpIndia

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