Irresponsible reporting by certain media houses

Leading Bollywood filmmakers have filed a lawsuit in the Delhi High Court against "irresponsible reporting by certain media houses", in the latest fallout of the Sushant Singh Rajput investigation. Some of the film industry's biggest names, including Aamir Khan, Shah Rukh Khan, Salman Khan, Akshay Kumar, Ajay Devgn, Karan Johar, Aditya Chopra and Farhan Akhtar, have come together in the unprecedented legal action against two channels - Republic TV and Times Now. The suit has been filed against Republic TV, and Arnab Goswami and Pradeep Bhandari of the channel; and Times Now and its top faces Rahul Shivshankar and Navika Kumar. The channels used "highly derogatory words and expressions for Bollywood", said the producers, listing terms like "dirt", "filth", "scum" and "druggies" used over the past few months.
While some say all the perfumes of Arabia cannot take away the stench and the stink of this filth and scum of the underbelly of Bollywood, actress Kangana Ranaut claims the film industry runs on an unwritten rule of 'you hide my dirty secrets I will hide yours,' in response to top Bollywood filmmakers and producers moving the Delhi high court against media houses and journalists for 'defaming the industry.'
The film industry has been in the spotlight over a drugs probe linked to the investigations into the death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput on June 14. Amid revelations of drug chats on phones, stars and their parties have been subjected to searing, no-holds-barred media scrutiny.
The case is significant for two distinct reasons. One, it will throw open the question of free speech and its limits. While it is tempting to frame the issue only in terms of free expression — and media platforms must be allowed to publish and broadcast all forms of investigative stories and diverse views — the fact is that this right to free speech comes with a degree of responsibility as constitutionally stipulated. To accuse people of murder, without any evidence, cannot be constructed as free speech.
Some media outlets have also, often, provided a platform for hate speech. While the State cannot be trusted to regulate the media — for it will become a way to exercise control — self-regulation has failed too. The case must trigger a conversation on the need for a statutory-but-independent regulatory mechanism for television news. The lawsuit seeks to restrain the media houses from interfering with the right to privacy of those associated with the industry.

- Prabhakar Purandare

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