The media industry is a competitive business. And the TV news industry is all the more competitive. Until now, subtle jibes and innuendo had been the preferred means of TV channels to target their rivals.
However, with the Mumbai Police announcing it was investigating Republic TV and two Marathi channels for illegally fixing the television rating point (TRP) system, the gloves are truly off.
Ever since Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh announced the probe on Thursday, a host of English and Hindi channels including NDTV 24X7, Times Now, India Today, CNN News 18 and ABP News took to targeting Republic TV and its Hindi sister channel Republic Bharat. Republic TV, launched in May 2017, and Republic Bharat, launched in February 2019, have been considered disruptors in their respective segments, given their aggressive approach to breaking news and adoption of openly nationalist positions. Not surprisingly, Republic TV has not shied away from hitting back at these critics.
Aaj Tak, the Hindi channel of India Today, tweeted on Thursday, the day when the Mumbai Police announced the TRP racket, "Republic TV ki chori pakdi gayi (Republic TV's theft has been caught)".
The main India Today Twitter handle tweeted, "#RepublicCheatsBharat", calling the racket a "cash for news" scandal.
Republic TV and India Today channels had been at loggerheads over the Sushant Singh Rajput case probe. Republic TV and its editor-in-chief, Arnab Goswami, had criticised India Today for airing an interview of Rhea Chakraborty in late August. Chakraborty was the girlfriend of Rajput and had been accused of being involved in causing his death in June.
Republic TV hit back on Thursday itself, tweeting a news item that the Mumbai Police FIR on the TRP racket had named India Today and not Republic TV.
On Saturday, Republic TV reiterated its claims against India Today and alleged the latter was receiving "protection of the Mumbai Police and the Maharashtra Government".
A Republic TV statement claimed, "Mumbai Police Commissioner’s action is a continuing chapter in the witch-hunt of the Maharashtra Government and Shiv Sena, which on 10 September, 2020, issued a warning to all cable distributors not to carry channels of the Republic Media Network or else face consequences." Republic TV noted it had approached the Supreme Court in the case.
NDTV and Times Now gave extensive coverage to the allegations against Republic TV. Times Now on Friday released a video statement touting its credentials.
"Among ruined reputation of other TV channels, TIMES NOW stands credible. Integrity is our Karma, truth is our Dharma & India is our inspiration," Times Now stated.