Zee sends Rs 150-cr defamation notice to Jindal, company

Zee News Ltd Saturday sent a Rs 150 crore defamation notice to Jindal Steel and Power Ltd and its chairman Naveen Jindal. The broadcaster said it has "granted" three days to Jindal, also a Congress MP, to withdraw all his "unsubstantiated and defamatory allegations against Zee News" failing which he "would face civil and criminal actions initiated by Zee News". On October 25, JSPL had filed a Rs 200 crore defamation case against the media group.

In a press statement, Zee News said it "condemned and completely rejected the doctored evidence produced by Jindal" — a reference to the video clips released by Jindal on October 25 that purportedly show Zee News and Zee Business editors and business heads Sudhir Chaudhary and Samir Ahluwalia negotiating a Rs 100-crore advertising deal with JSPL officials for not airing negative reports against the company.

The statement said it "sees this as a deliberate attempt to malign the trustworthy television network". Stating that it has "always been the forerunner in exposing Naveen Jindal's double standards as a politician and industrialist in the coalgate scam", the media group said it "clearly understands that it is to suppress the coverage that Zee News was telecasting on coalgate, that the Corporate Communications team from Jindal Steel and Power Ltd first tried to bribe Samir Ahluwalia with Rs 25 crore, which he declined straightaway, and later was offered a Rs 100 crore advertising deal to stop the coverage of coalgate scam".

Later in the day, JSPL also issued a press release narrating the sequence of events and the reasons that led to the filing of the FIR followed by the release of video clips by Jindal. JSPL said news channels owned by Zee News unleashed a series of "mischievous, malafide, highly scandalous and defamatory" programmes against it from September 7 "with a view to extort money from JSPL".

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