Arnab Goswami’s Republic TV has served a cease and desist notice to media trade portal BestMediaInfo.com asking it not to publish a news report claiming that several companies had cancelled advertising contracts with the channel since October, the website reported on Friday.
BestMediaInfo.com said the notice was served to its Founder and Editor-in-Chief Niraj Sharma after its editorial team contacted Republic TV’s Chief Executive Officer Vikas Khanchandani on Thursday for a comment on the planned news report.
Republic TV’s legal notice said the report was false and “part of a mala fide, vicious, vexatious and deliberate campaign” to tarnish the reputation of the channel and its executives, the website said. The notice threatened “the strongest legal action” against BestMediaInfo.com, if the website refused to comply with the demands of the channel, according to the portal.
“The brands apparently acted after BestMediaInfo.com published a news report (dated September 28, 2020) about advertisers asking news channels to stop broadcasting toxic content,” the website claimed. “The news report led to a wider discussion on the subject, with more advertisers echoing the same views.”
In addition, the website claimed that some advertisers had pulled advertising from Republic media group’s channels in January when purported WhatsApp chats between Goswami and the man who headed the Broadcast Audience Research Council became public when they were included in the the supplementary chargesheet filed by the Mumbai Police in the Television Rating Points scam case.
The chats, opposition parties alleged, suggested that the journalist had prior knowledge of the 2019 Balakot airstrikes in Pakistan.
Republic TV has strongly dismissed the BestMediaInfo.com’s proposed report, calling it a “falsified narrative” that “has been presented as a fact”.
“We are issuing this letter in view of your proposed defamatory, falsified, motivated, concocted publication where, in effect, you are attempting to put forward a malicious, false predetermined premise and conclusion, unsupported by verified facts,” the channel said in its legal notice, according to BestMediaInfo.com.
“The narrative being quoted in your query about 80 advertisers ‘pulling out’ of Republic, and specifically 30 advertisers after the purported ‘WhatsApp leaks’, is wholly false,” the notice added. “There is no link or correlation as being presumed in your article.”
The channel said there was no verifiable material to show that advertisers have left because of the TRP controversy or because of the purported WhatsApp chats. The notice added that the ongoing pandemic, and the tough economic conditions would have impacted the advertising on the channel.
“Furthermore, the world economy as a whole has suffered because of Covid-19 and there cannot be any doubt about the fact that Covid-19 has affected our clients, and the advertising industry is also no exception,” Republic TV’s legal notice added, according to the media trade portal. “It is however totally malicious and misleading for you to try to link normal economics with the TRP controversy, in addition to completely fabricating the facts on your very premise.”
Republic TV accused BestMediaInfo.com of “acting either at the dictates of, or in collusion” with its competitors.