Times group plans to sue Zee over Jindal video ‘remarks’

Bennett, Coleman & Co Ltd (BCCL) is in the process of sending a legal notice to Zee Group following the alleged uncomplimentary statements made by Zee News and Zee Business Editors against the newspapers owned by the company, in their conversations with Jindal Steel and Power Ltd (JSPL) officials.

JSPL chairman and managing director Naveen Jindal had released video clips on Thursday purportedly showing Zee News editor and business head Sudhir Chaudhary and Zee Business editor and business head Samir Ahluwalia making disparaging comments about the editorial practices of The Times of India and The Economic Times newspapers, both owned by BCCL. Sources within BCCL said the statements were "highly defamatory" and the company will soon be sending Zee a legal notice.

"I cannot tell you what exact step we plan to take but we will not let this pass. They will soon hear from us," BCCL CEO Ravi Dhariwal said. "Whatever those so-called editors have said is a pack of lies. We will take it up with the right people at the right forum."

Ahluwalia can be heard saying in the video clips that the front page stories in The Economic Times are paid for. "ET mein to front page stories bik rahi hain aaj kal. At least we are doing a transparent deal with you," the tapes show him as saying.

In yet another conversation with JSPL executives, he apparently says: "We are not the only ones doing this... If you stop your business with Times of India, they will start..." In the tapes, Ahluwalia apparently also remarks: "Delhi Times, Bombay Times, paid hai pura, A to B."

In the video, Chaudhary is seen speaking of a paid interview of Madhur Bhandarkar in one of The Times of India supplements. He is heard narrating another incident pertaining to a service run by BCCL called Medianet. "Aamir Khan bata raha that ek baar, ye Medianet wale Aamir Khan ke paas pahunch gaye jab 3 Idiots release ho rahi thi... bola ki... hum jab aapki picture release hogi to pura support karenge aur isme hum aapko four star de denge (Aamir Khan was telling me once that these Medianet guys approached him around the time 3 Idiots was about to be released and told him that they will support him when his picture gets released and give the film four stars)," Chaudhary can be heard saying. Medianet is a BCCL initiative under which it sells space for advertorials to advertisers for a fee.

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