Zee vs. Bloomberg: Court's Order Creates Legal Template for Corporates

In an embarrassment for international news and business media giant Bloomberg, a Delhi court has asked it to take down an article that suggested Zee Entertainment had a $241 million-sized hole in its accounting numbers.

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A Delhi court has taken the bold step of ordering international media giant Bloomberg to remove an article alleging financial discrepancies in Zee Entertainment's accounting. This move follows the Supreme Court's recent relief to the Adani group, which faced accusations of corporate misgovernance from various media outlets.

Published on February 21, 2024, the Bloomberg article titled "India Regulator Uncovers $241 Million Accounting Issue at Zee" claimed that India's Securities and Exchanges Board of India (SEBI) had discovered a substantial gap of $241 million in Zee Entertainment's accounts. The article further asserted that SEBI found no proper transaction history for this amount.

Delhi Court Orders Removal of Controversial Zee Entertainment Article

In response to these allegations, Zee Entertainment filed a defamation case against Bloomberg and its journalists – Anto Antony, Preeti Singh, and Saikat Das. In a significant development, Justice Harjyot Bhalla of the South Saket Courts issued an ex-parte order, instructing Bloomberg to take down the article within a week from March 1. The order also restrained the defendants from circulating or publishing the disputed article on any platform until the next hearing.

“In my view, the plaintiff has made out a prima facie case for passing ad interim ex-parte orders of injunction, balance of convenience is also in favour of plaintiff and against the defendant and irreparable loss and injury may be caused to the plaintiff, if the injunction as prayed for is not granted. In view thereof, defendant no.1 and defendant no.2 are directed to take down the article dated 21.02.2024 (page 84 to 86 of the plaintiff’s document) from online platform within one week of receipt of this order. The defendants are further restrained from posting, circulating or publishing the aforesaid article in respect of the plaintiff on any online or offline platform till the next date of hearing” 

Bloomberg's History of Corporate Scrutiny Raises Questions Amidst Delhi Court's Order

This incident is not the first time Bloomberg has faced criticism for its opinionated coverage. The media giant has previously targeted prominent figures, including the Ambani and Adani groups. The court's order prompts questions about the line between unbiased journalism and opinionated attacks, especially considering Bloomberg's own history of scrutinizing corporate giants.

The judgment also brings attention to what seems like a case of double standards within Western media. Bloomberg, which has consistently questioned Indian corporate giants, finds itself under scrutiny for its own practices. The article highlights Bloomberg's opinion pieces questioning the credibility of the Adani group, while ironically being owned by a U.S. billionaire. This raises concerns about a biased, white, Western view of the world and its impact on how India is perceived globally.

Delhi Court's Order Creates Legal Template for Corporates

Beyond the specifics of this case, the court's decision could set a precedent for corporate entities facing unfair and incorrect media scrutiny. It emphasizes the importance of legal recourse for businesses that believe they have been targeted unjustly, providing a template for addressing misinformation and protecting corporate reputations.

The Delhi court's directive to Bloomberg signals a critical moment in the ongoing debate about media responsibility and corporate accountability. As the global business landscape evolves, the need for unbiased and accurate reporting becomes increasingly vital. This incident underscores the importance of maintaining journalistic integrity and fairness, even for media giants with a substantial presence in the business media space. It also highlights the growing need for legal avenues to rectify the damage caused by inaccurate media coverage, setting the stage for a more transparent and accountable media landscape.