The Broadcast Audience Research Council, commonly shortened to BARC, passed an order that imposed a fine of Rupees 5,00,000 on TV Today Network Limited. TV Today Network Limited owns news channel Indian Today. The fine was imposed for alleged malpractices regarding viewership. This judgement was passed on 31st July 2020.
On 5th November 2020, this judgement was overruled by the Bombay High Court. The division bench comprising of Justice Nitin Jamdar and Justice Milind Jadhav, quashed the decision made by the Disciplinary Council of the BARC, on Thursday. This action was taken after the court was informed by the counsel for BARC that they were prepared to give the TV Today a new hearing.
Veerendra Tulzapurkar, the advocate for the petitioner, submitted that at the time of the impugned order being given, the Council did not have the necessary quorum. The counsel for BARC, Gopal Jain, a senior lawyer, submitted that the Code of Conduct for Redressing Viewership Malpractices had been renewed and subject to the changes in it, the Disciplinary Council is now prepared to hear the petitioner’s case again. The petitioner is also willing to appear in front of the Council again. The bench quashed the impinged order on the basis of this newly reached consensus and asked the petitioner to appear before the Disciplinary Council on the date assigned to them.
Last month, TV Today Network Limited had been directed by the Court to pay the fine amount to the Court registry in order to avoid coercive action against them by the BARC. The Court gave the petitioner permission to withdraw the fine amount of five lakh rupees in order to deposit the amount in the Registry.
The order passed by the BARC Disciplinary Council, in July, had been opposed by the channel. In April, a show-cause notice had been issued to the petitioner on the basis of data containing statistics given by the Measurement Science Team of BARC. An inexplicable spike in the viewership of the channel was shown in this data. The channel’s justification was found unsatisfactory and the fine was imposed by BARC.