The Times Group has filed a Rs 100-crore defamation suit against Newslaundry in the Bombay High Court for allegedly maligning Times Now anchors Rahul Shivshankar and Navika Kumar through two videos, Bar and Bench reported on Monday.
The videos in question are Toadies Banega Tu: TV Newsance and Explained: How to Rig TRPs. They were published on the Newslaundry website and also shared on their YouTube channel last year.
In the first video Newslaundry compared the coverage done by The Times of India and Times Now of actor Sushant Singh Rajput’s death. It spoke of the “IndiaForRheaArrest” hashtag being used by the channel.
“The remarks made in the video against the channel of the applicant and against the editors of the applicant as the hosts on the channel, and the promoters of the applicant go beyond the realm of satire, parody or spoof,” the Times Group said in its plea. “Any right thinking members of the society would conclude that the said video defames and tarnishes the image, reputation and goodwill of the company, its channel and editors.”
The second video, about the television rating points scam, showed a picture of the Times Now anchors.
The Times Group said that since the anchors were the face of the channel, Newslaundry’s video implied that the channel was involved in the illegal act of manipulating TRPs. The company added that such an implication would affect the news channel’s credibility.
Replying to the defamation notice, Newslaundry said that the comments made about the anchors were factually correct and not defamatory, Live Law reported. “It is further needless to submit that truth is the substantive defence to the allegations of defamation.”
It added: “It is unfortunate that an organisation like BCCL, [Bennett, Coleman and Company Limited] which has had a glorious history of standing up for the press has filed a defamation suit against a small, independently run media outlet that has consciously chosen a revenue model that allows it to work fairly without the pressure of the ‘Unofficial Editorial Line’ and without the fear of losing advertisement revenue.”
The matter is likely to be heard on February 22.