Advocate Akhil Sibal, son of senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal, appearing on behalf of leading Bollywood production houses has admitted that Republic TV has a massive audience and TRP. He admitted that the two channels, Republic TV and Times Now together represent 70% of the English visual media. This is when the alliance government his father’s party is a member of has accused Republic of manipulating TRP and generating fake stats to claim high viewership.
The Delhi High Court was hearing a plea by leading Bollywood production houses on the alleged derogatory reporting by Republic TV and Times Now. The matter was taken up by the single judge bench of Justice Rajiv Shakdher.
Sibal, duding his argument, emphasised that media needs to practice self restraint and should not slander Bollywood with derogatory references.
The Case against Republic TV and Times Now
Bollywood’s leading associations and production houses in October had filed a suit at the Delhi High Court against Republic TV, Arnab Goswami, Pradeep Bhandari, Times Now, Navika Kumar and Rahul Shivshankar. 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.
The TRP Scam
The initial FIR that was filed over the matter named India Today and others but not Republic TV and yet, it is Arnab Goswami and his channel that has been targeted over the matter for alleged TRP manipulation by the Mumbai Police. Mumbai Police chief Param Bir Singh had named Republic TV in the alleged scam, claiming that the channel had been indulging in illegal practices to manipulate the TRP meters and claim high viewership. Later, Hansa Research had asserted that its employees are being harassed for not offering a false statement against Republic TV.
The statements by the complainants had also accused that they were paid to watch India Today at their homes. The Mumbai Police’ targeted attack on Republic TV, while ignoring India Today had caused a massive embarrassment for the police and Maharashtra government.
The company, which operates the Bar-O-Meters of BARC (Broadcast Audience Research Council), has moved the Bombay High Court seeking transfer of the probe into the case from Mumbai Police to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), reports Bar and Bench.