TRP scam: Arnab Goswami and Barc ex-CEO connived, caused Rs 431cr loss to Times Now: Cops

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(This story originally appeared in on Jun 24, 2021)

Republic TV’s Arnab Goswami, in connivance with Partho Dasgupta, former CEO of Broadcast Audience Research Council, had manipulated television rating points (TRPs) of Times Now channel between June 2017 and March 2018 causing a loss of Rs 431 crore to the organisation, according to the supplementary chargesheet filed by Mumbai Police on Tuesday.

The crime branch had registered a case on October 6, 2020 after the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) lodged a complaint that certain television channels were rigging TRPs through illegal means. The BARC had installed 2,000 barometers in households in Mumbai to monitor TRPs in a confidential manner.

However, money was paid to households to keep their TV sets tuned to certain channels and shows to rig the ratings, for which funds were provided by Goswami, the chargesheet said.

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Earlier, police had said that Times Now was the leading channel in TRP rankings, but within a week after Republic TV was launched in 2017, BARC officials had connived and brought down Times Now to the number 2 position and CNN-18 from number two to third rank. The chargesheet also said that Arnab paid Dasgupta huge sums and the latter bought expensive items including gold and silver jewellery from the funds he received for his involvement in the manipulation, the chargesheet states.

The chargesheet said Arnab was a member of various WhatsApp groups used for the company’s work and the chats on some of them reveal discussions on TRP manipulation. The chargesheet also states that Goswami during questioning accepted the nature of the content of the Whatsapp chats with Dasgupta. Police conducted a panchnama of the conversations. “In these chats (between December 26, 2020 and December 28, 2020) Dasgupta shared confidential information of his company (BARC) with Goswami that benefited his company”, the chargesheet states.

The Mumbai crime branch named Republic TV’s Arnab Goswami, four employees of the channel and two others in the supplementary chargesheet submitted in the 37th Metropolitan Magistrate court on Tuesday. Police have also named COO of ARG Outlier (that runs Republic TV), Priya Mukherjee, chief financial officer Shiva Sundaram, other officials Shivendra Mundherkar and Ranjit Walter and two directors of Maha Movies Amit Dave and Sanjay Verma in the chargesheet.

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The chargesheet also states that the accused used Dual LCN—getting one channel placed on two frequencies by multi system operators (MSOs) and cable operators—and manipulating channel viewership data received at BARC. Due to this, Republic’s TRP had risen. With Goswami’s consent, cable operators and MSOs assigned more than one channel number to Republic India Hindi news and Republic TV English news, thus violating the norms of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India.

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