Harvest TV to be renamed ‘Tiranga TV’ after TDSAT order

Company will have to remove the flag colors from the logo

Harvest TV, led by journalists like Barkha Dutt and Karan Thapar, has got permission from an industry disputes settlement body to use the name ‘Tiranga TV’.

The Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal has overruled the objection by the government of India that Tiranga referred to the Indian flag and can therefore not be used for commercial purposes.

“..we are of the considered view that the name Tiranga itself is not covered by the Schedule of 1950 Act nor is subject matter of Flag Code,” a bench comprising Chairperson SK Singh and Member AK Bhargava ruled.

The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting had kept pending for about one-and-a-half years an application by the channel proprietors to have the name changed from Harvest TV — originally the name of a Christian missionary channel — to Tiranga TV, the name of the new news channel.

The name change application was filed nearly a year and a half ago, but elicited no response from the government.

In view of the delay, the channel was forced to approach the TDSAT, claiming that it cannot continue to use Harvest TV as doing so would result in legal complications involving the Christian group. The religious group was not pleased at finding its name and logo “hijacked” by the new channel.

In a fresh filing in front of the TDSAT last week, Veecon Media, the operator of the new news channel, said it had received a legal notice from the Christian religious group for continuing to use their logo and name for the news channel.

Even as TDSAT allowed the Veecon Media to use the name ‘Tiranga TV’ in its fresh ruling, it restricted the company from using a logo that resembled the Indian flag.

The original logo of the channel had the name Tiranga written on a flag-like background with the three colors of the Indian flag on it.

During the arguments, Kapil Sibal, who was arguing the case for Tiranga TV and has been reported to have helped with setting up the channel, volunteered that the channel will not use flaglike background, but requested to be allowed to use the name Tiranga TV.

“..it has been highlighted that change of name may adversely affect the reputation, goodwill and business of the petitioner, and hence Mr. Sibal has submitted that the petitioner voluntarily undertakes not to use the colors on the name and logo but simply use the words “Tiranga TV”, as submitted in its application. 

“In other words, he has offered that petitioner will not use the colors saffron and green in the name and logo of Tiranga TV until the issue is finally decided as per the orders of this Tribunal or otherwise in accordance with law,” TDSAT said in its order.

“Having considered the matter from all aspects, we are inclined to accept the submission and concession made by Mr. Sibal and accordingly we pass an interim direction that in case the petitioner chooses to change its name, it can, as an interim measure, use the name Tiranga TV, as submitted to the authorities but without using the saffron and green colors on the name and logo,” the bench ordered.

Tribunal also noted that the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting would be “well advised to withdraw” its order that denied the possibility of approving the name Tiranga TV and its logo and suggested it to “grant a further opportunity of hearing to the petitioner giving at least one week’s notice for the same.”

The channel, available on DTH platforms like Airtel Digital and Tata Sky, promises to deliver a ‘less jingoistic’ coverage of national news.

Most television news channels in India adopt a highly jingoistic, high-pitched and ‘angry’ approach to covering news, which has turned off many people from getting their news on TV.

The channel is also expected to give more space to the opposition’s view point than is currently afforded on mainstream news channels.