Bollywood Strikes back: Sues Republic TV and Times Now for irresponsible reporting

The suit singles out Republic's Arnab Goswami and Pradeep Bhandari and Times Now's Rahul Shivshankar and Navika Kumar for conducting media trials of Bollywood personalities and interfering with the right to privacy of persons associated with Bollywood.

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Top Bollywood associations and producers filed a civil suit in the Delhi high court today, directing that news channels including Republic TV and Times Now be barred from carrying on a defamatory campaign against the industry.

The petition was filed by four top associations and nearly three-dozen producers including Shah Rukh Khan’s Red Chillies Entertainment, Salman Khan Films, Aamir Khan Productions, Ajay Devgn Films, Karan Johar’s Dharma Productions, Farhan Akhtar’s Excel Entertainment, Anil Kapoor Film and Communication Network, Arbaaz Khan Productions, Ashutosh Gowarikaer Productions, Reliance Big Entertainment, Rohit Shetty Pictures, Sohail Khan Productions, Vinod Chopra Films, Vishal Bhardwaj Film and Yash Raj Films.

The suit singles out Republic’s Arnab Goswami and Pradeep Bhandari and Times Now’s Rahul Shivshankar and Navika Kumar for conducting media trials of Bollywood personalities and interfering with the right to privacy of persons associated with Bollywood.

The producers have taken exception to the phrases being used by these reporters to describe a so-called drug cartel operating in the film industry in the wake of Sushant Singh Rajput’s death. These phrases include, “dirt”, “filth”, “scum”, “druggies” and expressions such as “it is Bollywood where the dirt needs to be cleaned”, “all the perfumes of Arabia cannot take away the stench and the stink of this filth and scum of the underbelly of Bollywood”, “This is the dirtiest industry in the country”, and “cocaine and LSD drenched Bollywood”.

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The channels urged the court that the defendants abide by the Programme Code under the Cable Television Networks Rules, 1994, and to withdraw, recall and take down all defamatory content published by them against Bollywood.

The petitioners said they were not seeking a blanket gag order against media reporting the probe into the death of Sushant Singh Rajput or the FIRs filed by the Narcotics Control Bureau, Mumbai. They were merely seeking “perpetual and mandatory injunction against the defendants from carrying on reportage and publication of material that violates applicable laws,” said the petitioners.

The privacy of Bollywood personalities was being invaded and their reputations were being irreparably damaged. The new channels were projecting the industry to be full of criminals and seeped in drug culture. “To be a part of Bollywood was being painted as being synonymous with criminal acts in the public imagination,” they said.

The four leading associations that initiated the move include The Producers Guild of India, the Cine & TV Artistes Association, the Film & TV Producers Council and Screenwriters Association.

The petition in the Delhi high court comes just a day after the Mumbai police questioned Republic TV’s CEO and others in connection with an alleged fake Television Rating Points (TRP) mega-scam. Last week, the Mumbai police unearthed a huge scam allegedly involving Republic TV, Fakt Marathi and Box Cinema and also set up a special team to conduct a forensic audit into the financials of the channels.

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