The Times Group on Tuesday lodged a criminal complaint against Republic TV Founder Arnab Goswami and senior journalist Prema Sridevi accusing them of theft, criminal breach of trust, misappropriation of property and infringement of IPR of Bennett Coleman & Co. Ltd. (BCCL) by using the same on Republic TV on May 6 and May 8, 2017.
Goswami, ex editor-in-chief of Times Now launched his English News channel Republic TV on May 6, 2017. On the first day of the launch of Republic TV, the channel carried an expose on Lalu Prasad Yadav in which audio tapes containing phone conversations between the ex-chief minister of Bihar and Shahabuddin allegedly while he was still in prison were played out. Another expose was done on Republic TV May 8, 2017 in which audio tapes of phone conversations between Prema Sridevi (ex-News Reporter of Times Now) and the Late Sunanda Pushkar (wife of Congress leader Shashi Tharoor) and their house help Narayan was broadcast.
BCCL alleges that both these exposes displayed material (in the form of audio tapes of phone conversations) that was procured and accessed while Goswami and Prema Sridevi were in the employment of Times Now.
“An internal inquiry by BCCL is said to have pointed out that these tapes were procured and in the possession of Goswami and Prema Sridevi while they were in the service of BCCL. In fact, BCCL claims that Goswami and Prema Sridevi have on Republic TV admitted and claimed that the audio conversation in the Sunanda Pushkar case aired on May 8, 2017 was in their possession for the last two years when they were in their previous organisation i.e. with Times Now,” reads the statement issued by the Times Group.
Reacting to the news, Goswami accused the Times Group of going into a “state of panic.” He also compared the situation to David vs. Goliath where game for Goliath (Times) is over and for David (Republic) has just begun.
“They must collect themselves and start showing some grace and poise and realise that independent media houses like Republic couldn’t care less about these methods. At Republic, we focus on the news and we are delighted by the tremendous response that we have got nationwide in the first two weeks of our launch. Our traction amongst viewers and social media and all digital platforms is many times greater than of the Times Group and it must be their desperation at facing defeat that is forcing them to carry out embarrassing stunts like this. I am proud of our journalism and the work we have done. And it is amusing for me and my team to see Goliath start crying like they are now. As I said in this David vs. Goliath fight, the game for Goliath is over and it has just begun for us,” Goswami told exchange4media.
According to the BCCL statement, Goswami and Prema Sridevi have wilfully, deliberately and with knowledge converted for their benefit and used the aforesaid intellectual property of “Times Now” and thereby dishonestly misappropriated the said intellectual property, thereby committing the offence of criminal misappropriation of property punishable U/Sec.403 of I.P.C. and several other provisions under applicable laws. BCCL has therefore taken steps to defend its rights and protect its intellectual property against such misuse.
BCCL owns and operates various television channels, including English news channel Times Now. BCCL owns several intellectual assets in the form of stories, audio-video content, documents, tapes, etc., gathered by its team of reporters and journalists during its news gathering and broadcasting operations.