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HC asks TV Today Network to deposit Broadcast Audience Research Council fine with court

The Bombay High Court has directed TV Today Network Ltd, which runs the news channel India Today, to deposit Rs 5 lakh, the fine imposed on it by the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC), in the court registry.

A division bench of Justices Nitin Jamdar and Milind Jadhav was on Thursday hearing a petition filed by TV Today Network Limited challenging the July 31, 2020, order passed by the disciplinary council of BARC imposing the fine for alleged viewership malpractices.

Petitioner’s counsel Veerendra Tulzapurkar sought an interim relief from the court, seeking a direction to the BARC not to take any coercive steps pending hearing of the plea.

BARC’s counsel Ashish Kamat opposed the grant of interim relief.

The bench said it would hear the plea on November 5.

“You (petitioner) can deposit the Rs 5 lakh fine amount in the registry of this court. If you do so then the question of the respondent (BARC) taking any coercive steps does not arise,” the court said.

The BARC had on April 27 issued a show-cause notice to the petitioner after the statistical data provided by BARC’s Measurement Science Team allegedly showed abnormal and inexplicable increase in viewership.

Finding the media group’s response unsatisfactory, the BARC on July 31 asked the network to pay Rs 5 lakh as fine.