The full-blown controversy over the TRP scam has taken a dramatic turn days after the Bombay High Court directed the India Today-owned TV Today Network to deposit Rs. 5 lakh to avoid coercive actions by the rating agency BARC. An extraordinary statement by India Today said that ‘misreporting’ by sections of the media on the high court’s order was ‘unfortunate.’
The statement said, “India Today issued a statement expressing its disappointment over ‘misreporting’ by ‘certain sections of the media.’ It said, “It is unfortunate that certain sections of the media are misreporting the reasons for TV Today approaching the Bombay High Court against BARC. The petition filed challenges an order passed by the BARC disciplinary committee on the grounds that it was without an appropriate quorum and without presenting the evidence, among other criteria. The court has stayed the order and directed that no coercive action be taken subject to the deposit of Rs. 5 lakh with the court– and not with BARC and without prejudice to our rights.
According to the Bar and Bench website, a Bench of Justices Nitin Jamdar and Milind Jadhav in the Bombay High Court said last week, “It will be open to TV Today Network without prejudice to its rights and contentions to deposit the amount of Rs.5 lakhs as directed by the BARC’s Disciplinary Council in the registry of this Court. If this amount is deposited no coercive steps will be taken against TV Today in the meanwhile.”
BARC had earlier fined TV Today, which operates India Today and Aaj Tak TV channels of the India Today Group, and warned the network to refrain from TRP malpractices in the future.
Reacting to the development, India Today had issued another statement earlier this month. It had read, “…BARC has fined India Today without presenting any concrete evidence or convening a proper judicial committee. The issue had been under contention with them, but since they have leaked the confidential hearings, the India Today Group will consider appropriate legal recourse to get justice.”
BARC had alleged that there was a significant abnormal jump in the reach of TV Today channels, adding that ‘this abnormal jump in the Daily Average Reach of the TV Today channels may be due to influencing the panel households which was strictly prohibited by the Code of Conduct for redressing the viewership malpractices.’
TV Today had moved the high court seeking interim protection from any coercive action by the BARC disciplinary committee, which measures the weekly viewership data for India’s TV channels and has suspended the release of its ratings in view of the TRP scam.