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Delhi HC hears Bollywood suit against Republic TV and Times Now, praises media’s work but asks not to use ‘sharp words’

Justice Shakdher hesitates in restraining media reports since it is a constitutional right but maintains that it expects fair reportage which has been somehow diluted "not only in India but even globally".

The Delhi High Court, while hearing a suit filed by leading associations and production houses of Bollywood against Republic TV, Arnab Goswami, Pradeep Bhandari, Times Now, Navika Kumar and Rahul Shivshankar has issued summons and notices in the matter, directing Republic TV and Times Now to respond within two weeks.

The Court has directed Republic TV and Times Now to ensure that no defamatory content is displayed on their channels or uploaded on social media, in the meanwhile. The matter has been posted to be taken up next on December 14. While hearing the plea, the court observed that reporting by media houses is not the issue but it is the manner of reporting which has been creating a problem.

Referring to an incident where a school teacher almost got killed by lynching by residents after media reported that she disseminated obscene material or how in the case of Princess Diana, she died because she was racing away from the media, the court claimed that though this kind of reportage is taking place all over the world, ‘we expect clear reportage and neutrality’.

It raised objection to the kind of language being used by participants on Live TV channels. “Now participants on TV are using cuss words on live TV channels because they get so excited. If you keep egging them on, that is what happens”, opined the court. The court furthered that there are certain guidelines that have been set by the News Broadcasting Standards Authority (NBSA) which all the media houses should follow. It said that toning down of language while reporting is what needs to be followed by media houses.

“What is that should be put in place to change the way the reporting is carried out?… There needs to be some toning down. There are orders of NBSA. But it seems that news channels are not following that. As an officer of the Court, what is the next step here if you do not follow self-regulation? What are we to do about this? It is a general remark across the board. All of you have to think about it. It is a little disheartening and demoralises everyone,” observed the court.

The plaintiffs had in the suit alleged that media, especially the two channels (Republic TV and Times Now) in question have been interfering with the right to privacy of persons associated with Bollywood. The court observed that though no one wants to have his private life dragged in public, that element of privacy does get diluted for public personas to a certain extent. “If you live on public praise, you are likely to get a certain amount of flak as well“, said the court.

Delhi High Court asks media to refrain from using sharp language

The court concurred that media has been doing outstanding work, when Malvika Trivedi of Phoenix Legal representing Republic in court, highlighted that it cannot be ignored that there were two mysterious deaths here (that of actor Sushant Singh Rajput and his manager Disha Salian) and a lot of the information came to the public domain because of the media’s work. However, it asked media to refrain from using sharp language.

Justice Shakdher hesitated in restraining media reports since it is a constitutional right but maintains that it expects fair reportage which has been somehow diluted “not only in India but even globally”. The court was answering Akhil Sibal, son of senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal, appearing as the counsel for the plaintiffs who in this case are some Bollywood’s leading associations and production houses.

While claiming that the “vitriolic attack” by these media houses are impacting “vulnerable individuals”, Akhil Sibal said before the court that Republic TV and Times Now represent 70% of English news audiences, admitting that the high TRP of Republic TV is rather accurate, that too when the Maharashtra alliance government his father’s party is a member of has accused Republic TV of manipulating TRP and generating fake stats to claim high viewership.

Bollywood biggies join hands to target Arnab Goswami and Republic TV in Delhi High Court

On October 12, Bollywood’s leading associations and production houses, including that of Aamir Khan, Karan Johar, Farhan Akhtar, had filed a suit in Delhi High Court against Republic TV, Arnab Goswami, Pradeep Bhandari, Times Now, Navika Kumar and Rahul Shivshankar. As per reports, the suit asks them to refrain from making ‘irresponsible, defamatory and derogatory remarks’ against Bollywood in wake of mysterious death of Sushant Singh Rajput and subsequent drug scandal that has emerged. The suit also asks them to take down all “defamatory” content published by them against the film industry.

The Bollywood bigwigs are upset at the alleged use of words like “dirt”, “filth”, “scum”, “druggies” & expressions such as “all the perfumes of Arabia cannot take away the stench and the stink of this filth and scum of the underbelly of Bollywood” to describe the film industry.

OpIndia accesses internal communication of Bollywood cine-associations

It is pertinent to note here that days after four cine-associations and 34 movie production houses filed a petition against Republic TV and Times Now over the coverage of Bollywood-drug nexus, it has been revealed that the original petition included more TV news channels which were dropped in the final petition, without informing some of the petitioners.

OpIndia had accessed email exchanges between Solicis Lex, the law firm representing CINTAA (Cine & TV Artists Association), and the Producers Guild, which discuss about possibility of adding more channels in the petition so that it does not look like targeted against two channels.

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OpIndia Staff
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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