The former CEO of Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) India, Partho Dasgupta, has claimed in a handwritten statement to Mumbai Police that he received US$12,000 from Republic TV Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami for two separate holidays and a total of Rs 40 lakh over three years, in return for manipulating ratings in favour of the news channel, according to the supplementary chargesheet filed in the TRP scam case, reported Indian Express.
The 3,600-page supplementary chargesheet, filed by Mumbai Police includes a BARC forensic audit report, WhatsApp chats purportedly between Dasgupta and Goswami, and statements of 59 persons, including former council employees and cable operators.
The audit report names several news channels, including Republic, Times Now and Aaj Tak. It lists instances of alleged manipulation as well as “pre-fixing” of ratings by BARC’s top executives.
Dasgupta’s statement that he gave to the police reads: “I have known Arnab Goswami since 2004. We used to work together in Times Now. I joined BARC as CEO in 2013. Arnab Goswami launched Republic in 2017. Even before launching Republic TV he would talk to me about plans for the launch and indirectly hint at helping him to get good ratings to his channel. Goswami knew very well that I know how the TRP system works. He also alluded to helping me out in the future. And “I worked with my team to ensure manipulation of TRP ratings that made Republic TV get number 1 rating. This would have continued from 2017 to 2019.
Towards this, in 2017 Arnab Goswami had personally met me at St Regis hotel, Lower Parel and given me 6000 dollars cash for my France and Switzerland family trip…also in 2019 Arnab Goswami had personally met me at St Regis and given me 6000 dollars for my Sweden and Denmark family trip. Also in 2017, Goswami had personally met me at ITC Parel hotel and given me Rs 20 lakh cash… also in 2018 and 2019… Goswami met me at ITC hotel Parel and gave me Rs 10 lakhs each time…” However Dasgupata’s lawyer Arjun singh said that he deny this allegation as the statement would have recorded under duress and has no evidentiary value in the court of law. The report mentions favouritism and the suppression of viewership for Times Now to boost Republic’s weekly rankings and a lot more manipulation.
The report states that six top executives of BARC at the time were involved in “manipulation of ratings and violation of the code of ethics” between 2018 and 2019, including Dasgupta, Ramgarhia, Head of Products (South) Venkat Sujit Samrat, Head of West Rushab Mehta, Vice President of Strategy Pekham Basu, and Chief People Officer and Strategy Manashi Kumar.