What’s in a name? A lot, according to India TV. The TV channel has lodged a complaint with the Information and Broadcasting Ministry stating that its ‘fair name and goodwill’ were being compromised because of regulatory permission given to a company called Information TV to run a 24-hour news channel by the name of `India News’.
In a letter dated June 11, 2008, addressed to Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi, India TV Chairman and Editor-in-Chief, Rajat Sharma, expressed shock at continued references to ‘India News’ as India TV and the implications therein.
Sharma cited several instances, including the letter written by Sandhya Bajaj, Member, National Commission for Protection of Child Rights, which is being widely circulated in the Press, claiming that a pornographic MMS, purportedly of Arushi Talwar, was aired on India TV, when in fact, it was aired on ‘India News’. The Arushi Talwar murder case has been widely covered by the media in the recent weeks.
Sharma made it plain that India TV had nothing at all to do with such an objectionable video. The video was aired for long periods of time on the channel controlled by Kartikeya Sharma, son of Congressman Vinod Sharma and brother of Manu Sharma, convicted in the Jessica Lall murder case.
In a statement, India TV said that Sandhya Bajaj, too was being apprised of her erroneous information. But the damage could not be undone, because by now many sections of the Press had associated the pornographic MMS with India TV, the channel maintained.
A case in point is The Times of India report of June 10, 2008, which appeared on Page 3, where the erroneous and unjust reference to India TV instead of ‘India News’ had been conveyed to the Editor of The Times of India’s Delhi edition.
In an identical letter to Women and Child Development Minister, Renuka Chaudhary, the India TV Chairman pointed out that in a talk show on the Arushi Talwar case aired by NDTV, members of the audience and experts invited by Barkha Dutt, Managing Editor, NDTV, referred to India TV as the purported broadcaster of the pornographic MMS instead of ‘India News’, and it was left to Deepak Chaurasia, Senior Editor, Aaj Tak, to clarify.
“Such acts of confusion have emanated out of the regulatory decision to allocate a similar sounding name to the channel owned by Information TV,” claimed Sharma.
India TV, in its statement, added, “India TV is exercising every option to protect its name. Our Senior Counsel, Abhishek Manu Singhvi, has suggested seven alternate names to the Hon’ble Court and the Hon’ble Court has kindly directed Information TV and ‘India News’ to carry detailed disclaimers until the disposal of the case.”
Elaborating on the confusion in other quarters, Sharma pointed out that on April 29, 2008, even the I&B Ministry had issued an important letter to India TV, but referred to it as ‘India News’. The Ministry had to issue a corrigendum on April 30, 2008.
A similar reference to ‘India News’, when the intent was to refer to India TV, was made by the Delhi High Court.