The Mumbai Police on Tuesday, 22 June, named Republic TV Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami as an accused in the Television Ratings Points (TRP) scam, nine months after registering an FIR in the case. Allegations against the Television personality pertain to his purported chats with BARC CEO Partho Dasgupta and specific techniques used to manipulate Republic TV’s TRP.
Goswami and four others from ARG Outlier Media (that owns Republic TV) were named in the 1,912-page charge sheet submitted by the Mumbai Crime Branch to the Magistrate Court.
The others accused in the case are Priya Mukherjee, Shivendu Mulekar, and Shiva Sundaram. A total of 22 people had, prior to this, been named in the case including CEO of Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) Partho Dasgupta and Republic TVs CEO Vikash Khanchandani.
On 24 March, the Bombay High Court had granted Goswami limited protection from arrest in his petition alleging “serious mala fides" against the police, especially against former Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh.
WHAT ARE THE ALLEGATIONS AGAINST ARNAB GOSWAMI?
WhatsApp chats in connection with TRP manipulation have come to the fore. These chats were allegedly between BARC CEO Partho Dasgupta and Arnab Goswami.
Three techniques would allegedly be employed in a bid to manipulate TRPs:
The residents of the sample houses in which barometers were placed to monitor TRP ratings, were paid bribes, so that they would keep the channels which needed a spike in ratings running.
Dual LCN was used to increase viewership. With this technique, the same channel can help increasing the rating by showing one or more frequencies.
Alleged manipulation of television channel ratings obtained in the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC). In this connection, the police had earlier arrested Dasgupta, former CEO of BARC, accusing him of manipulating TRPs to help the channel.
EVIDENCE AGAINST ARNAB?
The police claim that they have obtained WhatsApp chats, in which Goswami and Dasgupta have talked about tampering with the TRP of rival channels. Also, police claim, there is proof of technical manipulation to show better performance by Republic TV.
Partho Dasgupta has admitted in a written statement to the Mumbai Police that he had received 12 thousand dollars and a total of four million rupees for two foreign trips in three years from Republic Channel editor Arnab Goswami for tampering with TRPs.
Arnab Goswami is said to have offered some expensive gifts and promised an important post in the central government to Dasgupta.
WHAT IS THE TRP SCAM?
Earlier in October 2020, the Mumbai Police had claimed to have busted a ‘TRP scam’, whereby TRPs had allegedly been manipulated. The erstwhile Mumbai Police Commissioner, Param Bir Singh, had said that ratings by the BARC, which measures television ratings in India, were being manipulated.
The police named Republic TV and two other Marathi channels that were allegedly involved in the practice.
They further said that sample houses, where bar-o-meters had been installed to monitor the ratings, were paid to watch certain TV channels to boost the TRP. The amount paid was between Rs 400 and Rs 500 per house per month.
Explaining that TRPs were used by channels to get higher advertising revenue, the police said that the money made from such "manipulation" will be seen as “proceeds of crime”.
(With inputs from Ritvick AB and LiveLaw.in)
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