Editors Guild cautions Republic TV to not compromise on safety of journalists

Republic TV and Arnab Goswami have been at the centre of the TRP gaming row.

NEW DELHI: ARG Outlier Media owned Republic TV and its founder and editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami have been in the eye of a storm lately. Starting with the channel’s coverage of the Sushant Singh Rajput case to the recently unearthed TRP scam, Republic and its top honchos have been caught up in multiple accusations, FIRs, lawsuits and what not.

Amid such a situation, the Editors Guild of India (EDI), a statutory body comprising of India’s leading current and former editors and journalists, has issued a statement expressing its concern at “the unedifying spectacle of hundreds of FIRs being filed against the journalists of Republic TV, which is under probe for allegedly manipulating the TRPs and spreading discontent against the Mumbai police.”

EDI also urged the channel to behave responsibly and not compromise “the safety of its journalists”.  Stating that the body does not wish to influence the probe, it however called for an immediate end to the victimisation of journalists in the fraternity.

The statement further referred to the case of late Sushant Singh Rajput and mentioned that the Right to Speech does not mean that one can spread ‘hate speech’.  Referring to the standoff between the Mumbai Police and TV channels, it said there is a need to maintain a balance between media freedom and the imperative to reside within the rule of law. “Republic TV’s high strung conduct during the unfortunate demise of the film actor also raises issues about media credibility and limits to reporting.”

Read our coverage of the TRP scandal

The guild went on to question the channels’ modus operandi of investigative journalism by bringing up the Bombay high court’s rejoinder – “Is this part of investigative journalism? Asking the public about their opinion on who should be arrested?”

The body even went on to point to a channel (Republic TV in this case) to behave responsibly and not compromise on the safety of its journalists as well as hurt the credibility of the media.

Mumbai police unearthed the TRP scam on 8 October and since then Republic TV and the law enforcement authorities have been at the loggerheads. They have repeatedly engaged in mud-slinging at each other and have even filed defamation suits against each other. The scam was uncovered earlier in October when the Broadcast Audience Research Council filed a complaint through Hansa Research Group, alleging that certain television channels were rigging TRP numbers.

So far, the police has arrested several people in connection with the TRP scam including the owners of several channels - Box Cinema and Marathi channel Fakt Marathi.

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