The Mumbai police told a local court on December 29 that arrested former CEO of Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) Partho Dasgupta, in alleged connivance with another ex-senior BARC official and Republic TV Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami, manipulated the television rating points (TRP) of Republic TV and its Hindi arm.
The Mumbai police’s Crime Branch, in its remand note submitted before a magistrate’s court here, sought further custody of Dasgupta, claiming he was the “mastermind” of the alleged TRP scam.
It said Dasgupta and other accused (both arrested and wanted), in conspiracy, allegedly manipulated the TRP of specific TV news channels to obtain financial gain. Romil Ramgarhia, former BARC COO, also allegedly connived with Dasgupta for manipulation of TRP of certain news channels, the police claimed.
“Dasgupta misused his official position and manipulated TRP of specific news channels broadcast by ARG Outlier Media Pvt Ltd such as Republic Bharat Hindi and Republic TV English,” the police alleged in its remand note. Dasgupta, while serving as CEO of BARC, got involved in the conspiracy along with Arnab Goswami and others for manipulation of TRP.
The police remand note alleged that Goswami has given “payment in lakhs” to Dasgupta from time to time. It alleged that Dasgupta used this money to procure jewellery and other expensive articles which have been seized from his residence.
The magistrate, after perusing the remand note, on Monday extended the police custody of Dasgupta, who was arrested last week, till December 30. The police said his further custodial interrogation was required to ascertain if more payments were made and if the same manipulation was done for other news channels too.
It further alleged that Dasgupta, while serving as BARC CEO, was privy to confidential information on TRP ratings of all channels and a probe was on to find out if the same was revealed to others. The police said BARC had carried out random test and collected samples of 40 weeks during which TRP of ‘Times Now’ news channel was higher, but allegedly, with rigging, the rating of Republic TV was increased.
This was allegedly done by tampering with barometers, the police said. Dasgupta is the 15th person to be arrested in the case related to alleged rigging of TRP of some news channels.
Republic TV has denied any wrongdoing.