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Mid-Day takes Times group to MRTPC

23-July-2005
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Mid-Day takes Times group to MRTPC

Mid-Day says that BCCL had overstated Mumbai Mirror's circulation.

Mid-Day Multimedia, publisher of Mid-Day in Mumbai, has taken Bennett, Coleman & Co Ltd, publisher of the Times of India, to the Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Commission (MRTPC) for “overstating its recently launched Mumbai Mirror’s circulation” in a news portal.

In its order dated July 18, MRTPC has issued a showcause notice to Bennett and directed it to file a reply within two weeks on the allegation. The matter has been listed for hearing on August 16.

Mid-Day Multimedia Chief Financial Officer Monojit Ghoshal told Business Standard: “We have filed a case against BCCL for grossly overstating Mumbai Mirror’s circulation and making uncalled for remarks in a website against our newspaper.”

When contacted, a senior Bennett executive said he was not aware of such a development. Bennett executives were quoted on a news website on June 22 claiming that “Mumbai Mirror’s circulation was 1.7 lakh against Mid-Day’s 1.2 lakh”.

Bennett had also stated that Mid-Day had dropped its print order by 25 per cent and had been forced to increase its dealers’ margin.

Bennett had also cited the falling circulation of Mid-Day as a reason to exit from the company where it held a 8 per cent stake.

According to Ghoshal, these figures were erroneous. The company had conducted an audit through Deloitte, Haskins and Sells and the consultant has reported that Mid-Day’s circulation has increased to 1,80,000 in April-June quarter.

Also on July 2 the Times of India had stated that it had been constrained by a printing limitation of 1.5 lakh copies suggesting that there was more demand than supply. Ghoshal pointed out that these reports drove Mid-Day to consider a legal recourse to prevent issuance of such misguiding statements to public as well as the advertisers.

Mid-Day has sought an interim injunction against Bennett to prevent the latter from publishing articles or making comments that might be harmful for the growth of the former.

Incidentally, Diligent Media (a joint venture between the Zee group and the Dhainik Bhaskar group), publisher of DNA, the yet to be launched daily newspaper, had in April this year slapped a civil suit against Bennett for ‘hijacking’ its teaser campaign. It had sought Rs 100 crore in damages as well as an unconditional apology from the company.

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