Mumbai Police has named former Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) CEO, Partho Dasgupta, as the ‘mastermind’ in the case related to alleged rigging of the Television Rating Points (TRP) by some TV channels. He has been accused of conspiring to boost ratings of one channel by depressing ratings of its rivalsin the genre of English and Telugu news.
Addressing a press conference on December 25, Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh said: “A forensic audit report mentions some e-mails and chats between former top officials.” Singh shared an excerpt of a chat between some of the former top officials that read: “Please find below an update on English News Channel for week… Times Now, CNN-News18 will be changed.”
“While he (Dasgupta) was CEO, reportedly there were quite a few allegations about manipulation of viewership data as well as TRP. However, reportedly, those allegations made by different owners including some whistleblowers were suppressed. However, after the new dispensation took over, a third-party forensic audit of data was organised and that third-party audit submitted its report in July 2020. In our exchange of information with BARC regarding different subjects, we got a report as solicited by us.”
As per the report, Singh said, “The data for around 44 weeks was analysed in detail, especially in the genre of English and Telugu news, where manipulation was found to a great extent through the use of three methodologies.”
“In some cases, the ratings appeared to be pre-decided,” the report noted, also pointing out to the cartelisation of some of the top ex-officials of BARC.
Commenting on the development, a BARC spokesperson said, “The development related to ex-employees of BARC India is a part of an ongoing investigation for which BARC management continues to extend its support and cooperation to the law enforcement agencies.”
“Every employee of BARC India is expected to conform to a Code of Conduct and Ethics and any infringement invites suitable disciplinary action. We will continue to ensure that what India watches is reported accurately and with utmost integrity. It is a responsibility we owe all our stakeholders.” added spokesperson.
Meanwhile Republic TV has dismissed the allegations of Mumbai Police and issued a detailed statement terming Mumbai Police’s claims are laughable.