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Republic TV Files Defamation Complaint Against Times Now’s Navika Kumar; Issues Legal Notice to The News Minute

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Left: Arnab Goswami (Credits: Abhinav619 Lincensed under CCA3.0) Right: Navika Kumar's Twitter

Republic TV‘s parent company, ARG Outlier Media Pvt. Ltd, on Thursday filed a criminal defamation case at Chief Metropolitan Magistrate, Patiala House courts against Navika Kumar, an anchor of English news channel Times Now for allegedly making “defamatory” remarks about Arnab Goswami, Republic TV‘s Editor-in-Chief, in connection with the TRP scam case, reported Bar and Bench.

The TRP racket was first uncovered by Mumbai Police Commissioner Parambir Singh during an investigation in October. Three media houses, namely, Republic TV, Box Cinema, and Fakt Marathi, were found to have rigged the meters (devices used to check and evaluate the viewership of a news channel) of a number of users. According to the police, the users who had installed the rigged meters were bribed on a monthly basis, so that they would run those channels.

In the complaint against Kumar, ARG Outlier Media claimed that she had, on her show Newshour that aired on 18 January 2021, made “distorted and misconducted” comments about the recently leaked Whatsapp chat exchanges between Goswami and former CEO of the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) Partho Dasgupta. The complaint also alleged that the same was later published on the Internet as well to “harm the reputation” of Goswami by claiming that the company ‘built its success’ on “TRP manipulation”.

“By misusing, misconstruing and distorting the documents from the Mumbai Police’s charge sheet in the TRP Scam, mainly the WhatsApp Chats, and without regard to the matter being sub judice both before the lower courts at Mumbai and the Hon’ble Bombay High Court, the Accused Person has gone on a reckless spree to spew grossly defamatory material mentioned below that has been telecast, published, circulated and disseminated on the TV Channel Times Now as well as the internet in various portal such as the Youtube,” the complaint states.

The complaint further stated that since Goswami once headed and was the face of Times Now had later left the channel and moved on to start his own news channel, the accused made “rabid and unfounded claims” accusing Goswami of “endangering national security” and “leaking state secrets,” out of “jealousy.”

“It is in fact for the reason that the Complainant company in itself has now gathered attraction that the Accused is jealous and the lack of ability of the Accused to match the success of the Complainant company, has caused this defamatory show to be aired,” the complaint stated.

On 24 December, 2020, Partho Dasgupta, former CEO of Broadcast Audience Research Council, was arrested by the Mumbai Police in connection with the alleged TRP scam. On 30 December, he was remanded to judicial custody and was moved to Taloja Central Prison, Navi Mumbai.

On Thursday, Republic TV tweeted that it also served a legal notice to the Bangalore based digital publication The News Minute for “false reporting in their January 26 story titled ‘Explainer: BARC audit report shows employees colluded to change channel ratings’ The News Minute issued a corrigendum on Thursday through on social media. “A section in the article said that the BARC Audit report came to a conclusion on the basis of Partho Dasgupta’s exchanges with Arnab Goswami. This was an error. The conclusion was based on exchanges between Partho Dasgupta and several people in BARC and three emails he sent Arnab Goswami before the launch of Republic TV. The error is regretted,” the corrigendum read.

On Tuesday, Republic TV also issued a legal notice to English newspaper The Indian Express for allegedly publishing “fake news” about Goswami in a story titled ‘Arnab Goswami paid me $12,000 and Rs 40 lakh to fix ratings: Partho Dasgupta’.  The notice stated that the news was “fake, unsubstantiated, false and unverified.”

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