The Bombay High Court has directed TV Today Network Ltd to deposit with it the Rs 5 lakh imposed on it by the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) in lieu of protection from possible coercive action.
A division bench of Justice Nitin M Jamdar and Justice Milind N Jadhav was hearing TV Today’s plea against a July 31 BARC order and warning letter imposing the deposit on the network and alleging “viewership malpractice” and violation of the Council’s code of conduct.
The channel has petitioned the court to quash and set aside BARC’s order. It has also sought interim protection against any possible coercive action by the BARC against it.
The BARC order was based on a showcause notice to TV Today alleging that there was ‘a significant abnormal jump’ in the daily average reach of its channels without any distribution improvement. It had said that the same may be due to influencing the panel households which was strictly prohibited by the Code of Conduct related to redressing viewership malpractices.
Senior counsel Veerendra Tulzapurkar and advocate Abhinav Chandrachud said that BARC failed to produce evidence to prove allegations and had passed the order without reason.
After hearing submissions, the bench in its order noted, “It will be open to TV Today Network without prejudice to its rights and contentions to deposit the amount of Rs 5 lakh 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.”
The court will hear the case next on November 5.
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