In the wake of multiple FIRs filed by the Mumbai Police in an alleged TRP manipulation case against Republic journalists, the Editors Guild of India issued a press statement Monday saying an investigation must not become a tool to suppress media rights.
“We do not wish to influence the probe by the authorities, even if we recognise it has the potential to bring in much needed transparency on the manipulation of popularity, and creation of “proceeds of crime” – as claimed by the police; but the victimisation of the journalists should immediately stop. The use of arbitrary state power is not and has never been in the interests of working journalists,” the Guild said.
“This standoff between the Mumbai Police and the TV channel is unprecedented and threatens the tenuous but important to maintain balance between media freedom and the imperative for it to reside within the rule of law. Right to free speech does not mean a licence to promote hate speech,” the statement read.
The Editors Guild also criticised Republic TV for the alleged manipulation of TRP as well as the ‘high-strung conduct’ during the coverage of actor Sushant Singh Rajput’s death.
The Editors Guild of India has issued a statement on FIRs that have been filed against journalists of Republic TV pic.twitter.com/tA4RFKDaBX
— Editors Guild of India (@IndEditorsGuild) October 26, 2020
“It is high time the channel behaves responsibly and not compromises the safety of its journalists as well as hurt the collective credibility of media. The police must ensure that its investigation does not hurt the channel’s journalists or makes any arrests. And that the investigation does not become a tool to suppress media rights,” Editors Guild said.
The Mumbai Police Crime Branch Saturday informed the Metropolitan Magistrate Court that owners and other officials affiliated with Republic Media Network, News Nation and Mahamovie have been named as accused in the alleged TRP scam and are wanted for their role in the case. The names of these persons were not disclosed. The police informed the court that their roles were ascertained during the interrogation of those arrested in connection with the alleged artificial spiking of TRP numbers.
Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh said a couple of weeks back that police are looking into a scam about manipulation of TRPs (Television Rating Points) by rigging the devices used by the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) India, which has the mandate to measure television audience in India.
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