Republic TV, the English news channel, sent a notice to English newspaper The Indian Express for allegedly publishing fake news regarding its founder, journalist Arnab Goswami, regarding the fake TRP scam case on Tuesday.
The notice stated that the news was “fake, unsubstantiated, false and unverified news”. The Mumbai Police have started investigating into the scam, according to a report by Bar and Bench.
The notice was served for The Indian Express’ story titled Arnab Goswami paid me $12,000 and Rs 40 lakh to fix ratings: Partho Dasgupta published on January 25 on print and online. The notice was issued against Raj Kamal Jha (editor-in-chief, The Indian Express), Mohamed Thaver (special correspondent, The Indian Express), and Krishn Kaushik (journalist, The Indian Express).
According to the report by The Indian Express, an audit report by the Mumbai Police named several news channels, including Republic TV, Times Now and Aaj Tak, and lists instances of alleged manipulation as well as “pre-fixing” of ratings by BARC’s top executives.
Republic TV claimed in its notice that the story is a part of a “mala fide, vicious and vexatious campaign to tarnish the reputation” of Goswami.
“Despite the pendency of the matter before a court of law, which is well known to you, the above news report has attributed guilt to our client in relation to the alleged TRP scam. The news report has sought to impute guilt on our client without paying any heed to the true facts and to the indeterminacy of the issues and pending court action by our client before the Hon’ble Bombay High Court,” the notice read.
“The news report is a vile, hateful, malicious attempt by you and part of a severely prejudicial campaign engineered and implemented by The Indian Express against our clients and aimed at attempting to irreparably destroy their reputation as well as the reputation of the Republic Media network,” the notice said.
The notice claimed that the report lacked “full-facts” and proper “fact-checking.”
Republic TV had asked The Indian Express to “cease and desist” from reporting such “misleading, fake, unsubstantiated, false and unverified news in their print and digital media, and other social media platforms and to remove the existing false news report published” by the publication across all mediums.
They have also asked The Indian Express to issue an unconditional apology across print, digital and all other official handles as well as a proposal on monetary compensation in response to its “defamatory conduct and content.”
The notice further mentioned that the news channel would take legal steps, including criminal action, if the publication does take action within 24 hours of receiving the notice.
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.
“I worked with my team to ensure manipulation of TRP ratings that made Republic TV get number 1 rating. This would have continued from 2017 to 2019. Towards this, in 2017 Arnab Goswami had personally met me at St Regis hotel, Lower Parel and given me $6,000 cash for my France and Switzerland family trip… Also in 2019, Arnab Goswami had personally met me at St Regis and given me $6,000 for my Sweden and Denmark family trip. Also in 2017, Goswami had personally met me at ITC Parel hotel and given me Rs 20 lakh cash… also in 2018 and 2019… Goswami met me at ITC hotel Parel and gave me Rs 10 lakhs each time…,” stated The Indian Express report.
The notice stated that the headline of the report “would mislead any reader into wrongly believing that, as a matter of fact, payments were made by our client, Mr Goswami to Mr Partho Dasgupta. Such a headline is squarely deliberate and mischievous.”
The Indian Express report also stated that “Dasgupta’s statement was recorded in the office of the Crime Intelligence Unit on December 27, 2020, at 5.15 pm, in the presence of two witnesses”. The notice said that the news report failed to mention that the statement by Dasgupta was given while in police custody, which is considered to be a piece of “inadmissible” evidence in court.
The notice said that the news report does not mention of the “torture undergone by Mr Dasgupta in judicial custody and the repeated attempts of the Mumbai police to force him to falsely implicate our clients in the alleged TRP scam”.