TV Today Network withdrew a petition filed in Delhi High Court against Arnab Goswami’s Republic TV
New Delhi, May26:The TV Today Network on Thursday withdrew a petition filed in the Delhi High Court against Arnab Goswami’s Republic TV, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) and Broadcast Audience Research Council (Barc). The network’s decision came after the court’s refusal to entertain an action against airing of Republic TV in more than one category on direct-to-home television.
TV Today had moved court days before Republic TV was declared as India’s most watched news network by Barc. This had prompted the exit of English news channels affiliated to the News Broadcasters Association from the council last Thursday after Barc disregarded their requests not to release the contentious figures.
According to the Barc figures, Republic TV had a 51.9 per cent news viewership with 2.11 million impressions in its debut week, while the figures for Times Now and the TV Today Network’s India Today were around 26 percent and 8.2 percent, respectively.
Barc’s lawyer, senior advocate Sandeep Sethi began the day by saying a channel that had the same watermark did not change viewership figures even if it was aired in more than one location. Highlighting the rating mechanism — a total number of viewers multiplied by the time spent (minimum of eight seconds) by individuals — Sethi refuted the TV Today contention that the airing of Republic TV under both the categories of news and entertainment had led to a large increase in their ratings.
Challenging Sethi’s submission, senior advocate Abhishek Singhvi, the counsel for TV Today, said the Barc rankings only considered a sample of 24,000 viewers and was playing foul on Indian television viewers. Singhvi also highlighted a different method of calculating the rankings and said that Republic TV was gaining an unfair benefit through viewers merely flipping through channels in the entertainment genre. Criticising Trai’s inaction on the issue, Singhvi said the telecom regulator blatantly violated the telecommunication regulations introduced in 2012 and 2017 — stating that a channel must appear in only one place — and requested the court to pass directions against Trai to investigate the matter in a time bound manner. The TV Today lawyer also asked the court to restrain Barc from publishing figures of channels that were violating the Trai regulations till the conclusion of the inquiry.
However, these pleas were rejected by the court after hearing the arguments of the Trai’s lawyer, who contended that several regional offices had reported that Republic TV was being aired in only one channel, adding, investigations were already underway against the channel as well as several others (including India Today) against similar allegations.
Rejecting Singhvi’s argument of Republic TV securing its enhanced ranking though mere channel flipping, Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva said a channel that had held a viewers’ attention of over eight seconds — the minimum requirement for the rankings — had to be captivating enough to be counted.
After the Republic TV’s lawyer, Ramji Srinivasan, assured the court that the network had not requested anyone to register it in two categories and had only declared itself as a news and current affairs channel, Justice Sachdeva refused to entertain the TV Today petition and allowed Trai to continue the ongoing investigation in a regular manner. Unable to get a favourable response from the court, TV Today finally withdrew the petition.