ToI-ing with readers: Court directs cops to investigate theft of DC classifieds by The Times of India

Published Dec 5, 2014, 8:16 am IST
Updated Feb 23, 2016, 2:43 pm IST
This must be the most perverted case in the history of India’s print journalism
The classified ad that was published in DC on Feb. 11, 2013 (above) was published in ToI with DC box no., address and title on February 24, 2013
 The classified ad that was published in DC on Feb. 11, 2013 (above) was published in ToI with DC box no., address and title on February 24, 2013

Hyderabad: While most newspapers will publish advertisements for a certain sum and news is never paid for, the leading paper of India has turned this on its head. It publishes paid news, but ads are free. That anyone can get anything published in The Times of India for a price is well known. Ask the movie industry how much it pays to get good reviews and lead stories!

But what Deccan Chronicle Holdings Limited discovered is that while you have to pay to get news published it ironically publishes ads free by lifting it from Deccan Chronicle.


Deccan Chronicle will publish in a series, ad after ad that appeared in the ToI a few days after they appeared in Deccan Chronicle complete with DC’s name, CA codes and box numbers which are unique to the newspaper and to each person who advertises in DC’s classifieds section!

Is it any wonder that the court recognised this as a cognisable offence and has asked the cops to investigate the systemic theft of classifieds from the pages of Deccan Chronicle?

A Criminal Complaint was filed by Deccan Chronicle Holdings Limited by the advocate before the court and the court was pleased to direct the police to investigate against the so-called market leader under Indian Penal Code Sections 120B, 379 and 467 and an FIR was registered thereafter.

This must be the most perverted case in the history of India’s print journalism.

So used is ToI to using its money power to railroad every local publication that The Times of India had no clue what hit them when it entered the Hyderabad market.

While it celebrates nearly 14 years of publication here it has yet to win the chance to celebrate being the leading paper here and the Hyderabadi has stood steadfast by the Hyderabadi newspaper through all its travails.

When it could not fight Deccan Chronicle fairly in the market, The Times of India tried its best to run DCHL down with a regular run of stories on its financial woes. When that did not work, it pillaged DC’s classifieds and went on to brag about its classified ads.

From early January 2013 to somewhere in June some 1,000-odd classified ads that appeared in the DC also landed in The Times of India for some weeks albeit a few days later. This was when DC was uploading its net edition in PDF format where it is easy to download and use. So lazy was it that it happily copied DC’s style, spellers and even DC’s codes etc. It was funny that the classifieds in The Times of India would ask people responding to “their” advertisements that they could contact Deccan Chronicle.

Naturally DC moved to the jpg format in lower resolution and that is when the pillaging of ads became difficult and the quantum dropped.

This was when ToI unleashed an ad blitzkrieg aptly coloured yellow.  Even as The Times of India began lifting DC’s advertisements with impudence their hoardings had the cheek to take a swipe at DC it was freely lifting content from. “Don’t like No 1?”, it ran, a clear reference to the No. 1 paper Deccan Chronicle.

Readers would have heard of ‘yellow journalism’. Yellow advertising? Why does ToI do it?

The measure of a newspaper’s success lies in the response to its classified ads. Anyone who had advertised in Deccan Chronicle will vouch for the tremendous response they get.

Thousands of loyal readers advertise with Deccan Chronicle every week. These are not large commercial advertisers. They form DC’s acknowledged base among individual families who love the newspaper and stay involved with it.

The Times of India in unabashedly plundering DC’s advertisements was not just trying to shine in reflected glory but undermining Deccan Chronicle and cheating its readers.

DC’s readers have clearly said they do not like it. And they have lodged written complaints. They are outraged. They had struck their bargains and the repeat ads made them look like they were betraying the trust of the buyer by looking for better deals!

Most Deccan Chronicle advertisers are inundated with customers. They strike a good bargain within hours.

By placing a classified advertisement with DC, they had signed a contractual agreement not only for the publication of the advertisement on the specified date but also one of exclusivity.

They had voted with their feet and their money for Deccan Chronicle. And what do they find? The self-proclaimed ‘market leader’ publishing advertisements which they gave Deccan Chronicle.

The market leader now owes cops, the courts, the readers and DC an explanation for their unscrupulous acts.

Readers testify

Copies of letters from DC readers complaining about the publication of their Classified advertisements in TOI without their Consent, causing them much angst.