Two exclusives aired by Republic TV had clips that were done when Arnab Goswami was with Times Now.
When Republic TV went public on air, the new news channel came out with an exclusive and a super exclusive. One was on the alleged conversation between Lalu Prasad Yadav and jailed party MP and known criminal Shahabuddin.
The other was on the murder of Sunanda Pushkar, wife of Congress MP from Kerala, Shashi Tharoor. This `super exclusive’, like Baahubali 2, is still running on Republic TV.
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But what has raised many eyebrows in journalistic circles, and now a matter before the court, is this fact:
The audio footage aired by Republic TV in both the cases belonged to Times Now of BCCL, India’s largest media house.
Arnab Goswami, the presiding `deity’ of Republic TV, had these stories done when he was the presiding `god’ of Times Now. The audio clips belong to Times Now. Once you leave an organisation, only you move out, not the files and properties – physical or intellectual.
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This means that Arnab Goswami had stored these exclusive audio files in his personal drive for future use in Republic TV.
Along with Arnab is also his Number Two: Prema Sridevi, a former reporter of Times Now.
Times Now, rather the BCCL, recently filed a civil suit in the Delhi High Court against Arnab Goswami and others, stating that audio tapes played during two stories aired on Republic TV –on Sunanda Pushkar and Lalu Prasad Yadav -were `procured and accessed’ by Goswami and Prema Sridevi while they were still employed by Times Now.
Hence these audio clips belonged solely and in whole to Times Now. To put it bluntly, the two stole the audio footage.
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What Arnab and Sridevi did was not only legally wrong but also unethical and their deliberate act of IPR violations only stands to mock at the crumbling edifice of moral code that governs the media.
During its high flying launch on May 6, Republic TV had carried an `expose’ on Lalu Prasad Yadav. The so called exclusive contained phone conversations between the former Bihar chief minister Lalu Prasad Yadav and Shahabuddin, while the latter was still in jail.
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Then came the Super Exclusive from Republic TV on May 8 in which the audio of conversations between Prema Sridevi and Sunanda Pushkar and her domestic help Narayan was aired.
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This audio was captured by Prema when she was an employee of Times Now. The same audio clip was aired by Times Now earlier when the channel did a story on Sunanda Pushkar murder.
To be fair, Arnab and Prema admitted on Republic TV that the audio of the conversation with the late Sunanda Pushkar and her domestic help was in their possession for the past two years. But they did not mention Times Now or give credit to the channel.
On May 26, the civil suit of BCCL was listed for hearing before the Delhi High Court. Justice Manmohan asked Arnab, Prema and & ARG Outlier Media (which runs Republic TV) for their explanation on the alleged infringement and the violation of the employment terms.
In response, Arnab and Prema, through their advocates, made a statement that they had no intention of violating the IPR clauses of their employment contract with BCCL. These statements were accepted and also recorded by the judge while passing the order on May 26 and clearly mentioned that ARG Outlier Media, Arnab Goswami, and Prema Sridevi were bound by their statements.
The civil case was listed for hearing on August 31. Arnab, Prema and ARG Outlier Media have been granted six weeks to file their written statement replies in the matter.
The BCCL, in a story today, said “This comes as a huge relief for the Times Group, which has been wary of misappropriation and violation of its intellectual property rights (IPRs) by Arnab and his company.”
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