Crescent Kashmir

Times Group serves ThePrint legal notice for coronavirus transmission through paper report

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New Delhi: The Bennett Coleman and Co. Ltd., (Times Group) has served a legal notice on ThePrint for a report that claimed transmission of Covid-19 through newspapers and currency notes was theoretically possible, although it was most unlikely.

The report, titled ‘Transmission of coronavirus through newspapers, currency possible but unlikely: Experts’, was published on 23 March. It quoted experts who said there was a possibility of the virus reaching homes through paper products, including newspapers and currency notes. However, these experts also said among all the scenarios through which the virus can spread, transmission through newspapers is the least probable.

Echoing the report, the International News Media Association has also acknowledged research that says “it may be possible” for a person to get Covid-19 by touching surfaces with the virus on it. But it assures there has been no such reported incident and that such surfaces do carry “lowest potency for the shortest period of time”.

The Times Group’s legal notice, however, demands that the report be pulled down from ThePrint website as well as social media platforms, claiming it “disparages newspapers and their operations with malicious intention”.

It also threatens civil or criminal proceedings if the demands are not complied with.

Times Group’s notice

The Times Group’s notice says the claims made in the report are “absolutely without basis and without appropriate findings by any health or statutory authority”.

It says ThePrint, through a “doctored” view of the situation, has acted with knowledge “to make wrongful gains and to cause unjustifiable loss to others”.

The Times Group has also taken objection to the fact that it wasn’t approached for its views before the article was put out.

The notice also calls the publication of the report an “unfair trade practice”. “You are a competitor to us and all newspaper organisations, and your actions are anti-competitive in nature. At the time of abundant misinformation and cluttered internet space, you have tried to hurt your true competitors in an exercise of unfair trade practice to hurt your competition under a deep conspiracy, for which you are jointly and severally liable.”

It quotes the World Health Organization (WHO) and America’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention who have claimed the risk of contracting Covid-19 from newspapers is very low. This, the notice says, counters the claims made in ThePrint report published to “alter the perception of readers and make them stop newspaper subscriptions and deliveries”.

Quoting scientists, ThePrint report, however, had said exactly what WHO and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention claimed — that while infection is theoretically possible, its probability is very low.

ThePrint’s response

Our report is a health and science-focused piece on how this new virus, about which so little is known around the world, behaves on paper and if it transmits through paper. The report quotes experts and studies that say while in theory the coronavirus can survive and be transmitted through paper products, it is most unlikely. If anything, the report is reassuring in anxious times.

The report is important and necessary considering the mysterious nature of the coronavirus and the largescale fears and misconceptions about it among people. It is a very important reader service.

The report is also fair and accurate. ThePrint stands by it. We are also flattered that the venerable Times Group sees ThePrint, not three yet, as a “true competitor”.


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