Matters are far from over in the spat between STAR India and India TV following the ‘Breaking News’ exposé done by the latter on January 26, 2006 about alleged manipulations in shortlisting candidates for ‘KBC2’. On Wednesday, India TV filed a legal notice on STAR India and ‘Mumbai Mirror’, demanding an apology for carrying an article that it claims is defamatory and erring on facts.
The legal notice has named Meenal Baghel, Editor, ‘Mumbai Mirror’, Subhash K Jha, columnist, Sameer Nair, COO, STAR India, and Deepak Sehgal, EVP-Content, as Respondents.
The reason for the legal notice is an article that appeared in Mumbai Mirror on January 28, written by Jha, in which Sehgal had called India TV “a scam”. Says the legal notice: “Noticee No. 4 (Sehgal)… has been further quoted in saying, ‘I’d say the word scam applies more to what India TV is doing, than to us. This is a desperate move by a channel anxious to be watched and if they are so sure of their facts, why didn’t they approach us…’”
The notice has been served by attorney firm of Singh & Singh (Maninder Singh and Pratibha Singh). The legal notice has demanded an “unconditional apology” to India TV from all the respondents for publishing “the impugned article and also publish the same at the prominent place in the same newspaper within a period of 48 hours from the date of the receipt of the notice”.
To recollect, the exposé by India TV was first released by ‘Mid-Day’ on the same day and was also carried in ‘Hindustan’ on January 27, 2006. In a press statement thereafter, STAR had dismissed the report, allegation by allegation, while India TV had countered it, point by point.
To put things in perspective, in the report ‘Con Banega Crorepati’, ‘Mid-Day’ had highlighted India TV’s expose on certain persons appearing twice on ‘KBC2’ even though it was a “mathematical improbability”. In a nutshell, the India TV programme and the ‘Mid-Day’ report pointed out that five contestants made it to the show twice – the probability of which is almost zero. Nine BSNL employees and one MTNL employee made it to the final 10, which, as the report alleged, was an “… apparent violation of the rules, which bar employees of ‘KBC2’s advertisers and partners from participating.” STAR has subsequently contested this charge.
When contacted about the reasons for filing the legal notice, Chintamani Rao, CEO, India TV, said, “As is evident, the contention that we did not contact them (STAR India) is incorrect. We had e-mailed both Peter Mukerjea and Samir Nair seeking their comments and even interviewing them on the show to have their perspective on the ‘KBC’ issue.”
Rao also added that ‘Mumbai Mirror’ “did not contact us for our version” on the charges made in the article.
Exposé, statements, rebuttals: India TV & STAR India slug it out over ‘KBC2’