Bennett, Coleman & Co Ltd (BCCL), the publisher of The Times of India and Maharashtra Times, has filed a Civil Suit against Indian Express Newspapers (Mumbai) Ltd, inter alia, claiming damages of Rs 100 crore for releasing false and misleading ad promo claiming Loksatta to be the largest-read newspaper in Mumbai on Sony Entertainment Television’s ‘Indian Idol Agla Kaun’ show.
An official communiqué stated, “A notice of motion taken out in the said suit for ad-interim reliefs was heard on Monday, February 6, 2006. The Counsel appearing for Indian Express made a statement in the Court that Indian Express Group has discontinued the tagline ‘The largest read Daily of Mumbai’ w.e.f. January 10, 2006. The Court, in view of the above mentioned statement did not grant any ad-interim (urgent) relief.”
Giving Indian Express’ point-of-view here, a Loksatta spokesperson said, “No application has been made. Yes, we have discontinued the old tagline. However, the reason for change is we have launched our brand positioning campaign – empowerment through knowledge. This is in line with the India Empowered series of Indian Express Group, which was launched some time back.”
To put things in perspective, BCCL had earlier served a notice on Indian Express Newspapers (Mumbai) Ltd and Sony Entertainment Television (SET), broadcasters of the programme, for airing an ad with the tagline, ‘The largest read Daily of Mumbai’, which BCCL terms as ‘misleading ad promo without verifying the veracity of the said advertisement’.
The notice had requested SET “to immediately suspend telecasting the false claim made by Loksatta within 24 hours of receiving the notice.” The notice sent to both these companies had stated that The Times of India has been for several decades the largest-read English daily in Mumbai and has been the largest read daily in Mumbai since 2003, while Maharashtra Times has secured the position of being the largest-read Marathi daily in Mumbai since the beginning of 2005. These positions have been endorsed by the survey of readership conducted by Indian Readership Survey (IRS) 2005 R2 and National Readership Survey (NRS) 2005.
The communiqué further stated, “BCCL had also asked the Indian Express Newspapers (Mumbai) Ltd to prominently publish a statement on the front page of Loksatta making it clear that Loksatta has made a false and misleading claim of being the largest-read daily in Mumbai and the statement should make it clear that The Times of India is the largest read daily in Mumbai and Maharashtra Times is the second largest-read daily of Mumbai, clearly ahead of Loksatta.”
The notice had also made it clear that if such a statement was not issued within 24 hours of receipt of the said notice, BCCL would take further appropriate legal action.