In what comes as the latest bizarre development to the alleged TRP scam case, Republic TV has now sent a legal notice to The Indian Express, claiming the newspaper had alleged in an article that the news channel's Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami had bribed Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC)'s former CEO Partho Dasgupta to manipulate television ratings.
In its notice, Republic TV reportedly claimed that the news report published by The Indian Express on January 25 had acted as "judge, jury, and executioner in breach of journalistic ethics...".
The news report in question is titled, "Arnab Goswami paid me $12,000 and Rs 40 lakh to fix ratings: Partho Dasgupta", published on January 25 with bylines attributed to Mohamed Thaver and Krishn Kaushik.
The strap below the headline, however, did mention, "BARC ex-CEO's lawyer: Handwritten statement has no evidentiary value".
If one actually read the article, it could be seen that it merely reports passages from the supplementary police charge-sheet filed in the alleged TRP scam case, along with the BARC forensic audit reports, statements of employees and cable operators, and of course, the infamous WhatsApp chats.
However, Republic TV claimed that the very headline of the news report would "mislead" readers into believing that payments were made by Goswami to Dasgupta for fixing TRP ratings.
According to Republic Media Network, Dasgupta's statement about the alleged bribe was extracted by the Mumbai Police "under coercion and duress" and the news report fails to properly address that fact, despite the strap.
Republic thus concluded that the report on The Indian Express is "a vexatious campaign to tarnish the reputation of Republic TV and is intended to further Indian Express' own commercial and corporate interests through sensationalism.'"
At the conclusion of the six-page legal notice filed through Phoenix Legal, the media network demanded that newspaper "cease and desist from reporting such misleading, fake, unsubstantiated, false, and unverified news" as well as publish an "unconditional apology," failing which, further legal action will follow.
Purported chats between Goswami and former Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) head Partho Dasgupta, which mentioned that the former was privy to the 2019 air strike, by the IAF on the biggest JeM training camp in Balakot had surfaced recently.
Dasgupta was arrested by the Mumbai crime branch on December 24 last year.
The fake Television Rating Points (TRP) scam came to light last year when ratings agency Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) filed a complaint through Hansa Research Group, alleging that certain television channels were rigging TRP numbers.
The TRP is important as advertising revenue of channels depends on it.