A few days back the statement of Sachin Vaze, the two-time suspended Mumbai Police officer, to the Enforcement Directorate (ED) has leveled allegations of corruption and extortion against former Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh. According to Vaze’s statement, he had been given clear political instructions and Deshmukh wanted Arnab Goswami, the Republic TV Editor-in-Chief, to get arrested in the Television Rating Points (TRP) scam case.
In the wake of this and failing to receive any response on the urgent release of ratings of news genre, the News Broadcasters Federation has again written to the BARC CEO Nakul Chopra and members of the BARC Board reiterating that BARC needs to initiate appropriate action to resume the release of TRP data for the news genre with immediate effect, a move that would save the news broadcasting industry, from the brink of collapse.
“In furtherance to our communication “NBF demands BARC to the immediate and urgent release of ratings for news genre,” and dated September 9, 2021, and in failure of receiving a response from your side, we would like to highlight and bring to your notice a significant development with regard to the alleged TRP rigging case,” the letter read.
The letter further stated, “We would like to bring to your urgent attention how recent news events that have been widely reported across the media establish beyond doubt that the TRP case was a political concoction. It is well-documented in the public domain how statements of Sachin Vaze (the then investigator in the TRP case) recorded on 19.06.2021., 21.06.2021, & 11.07.2021 under the provisions of sub-section (2) & (3) of Section 50 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 by the Enforcement Directorate clearly iterated that then Home Minister “Anil Deshmukh used to give the direction/ instructions” in the TRP case. Thus, it is, clear that the TRP case is nothing but a product of fabrications and fiction, spun on a political instruction, gratifying the selfish interest of few national channels at the cost of huge loss for the entire news broadcasting industry, consisting of more than 400 channels. In addition, the vested interests have jeopardized the entire growth of consumer-led companies, creative executives and advertising agencies, who play a critical role in fueling the consumption-led economic growth. “
The letter stated that the confession statement filed last Friday in Mumbai brings to light that the entire case of alleged TRP rigging was a concocted story by few vested interests, to victimize the news broadcasting sector, which had outperformed during the year of 2020 — a year of the pandemic in terms of viewership and performance.
The letter further stated that the confession statements prove that there was never ever a case and BARC’s unilateral suspension of weekly individual ratings for all news channels for almost a year now was entirely uncalled for. Therefore, the suspension of ratings that has caused irreparable damage was a futile exercise and executed without any basis. Interestingly, the person who confessed about the TRP case being a politically motivated and concocted exercise is the same ex-police officer that BARC allegedly paid a Rs. 30 lakh bribe to, as per a plethora of reports available in the public domain. It may be recalled that the NBF wrote to you regarding these extremely serious and alarming allegations in April 2021, but did not receive a reply on the matter. The entire series of events and documented revelations create a very suspicious set of circumstances. It remains unfathomable that despite it all a fraud case is being used as an excuse to revoke ratings for the news genre.
The NBF also reiterated the recent submission by BARC in the Bombay High Court, citing MIB Directive vide letter no 2/32/2020-PP&L, dated 15th February 2021, as the key and critical reason for the with-holding release of Audience Measurement Ratings for the news genre.
They further reiterated that the suspension of the release of TRP ratings for the news genre has put the present and future of over 400 news channels at stake, and the future of many advertisers and advertising agencies for close to a year now. Release of Television Audience Measurement Data is crucial and critical for news channels that have been performing their duty in the public interest and upholding democracy at large.
The continued unexplainable suspension in the release of audience measurement data has led to huge financial distress and severe economic loss to the news genre, threatening job losses at a large scale. BARC’s continued silence on the issue of TRP data and the bribe they allegedly paid in the case has further deepened the suspicion of news channels impacted by the suspension of ratings.
“In view of the ongoing crisis, we at NBF, the largest association of News channels, would like to reiterate that there was no legitimate reason or rationale for suspension in ratings for news genre alone. Given that the recent statements in the case have established beyond doubt that the whole case was hogwash rooted in motivated and malicious political instruction instead of facts. The time has come and is no better than at this moment for BARC course corrects and puts into immediate action a free, fair, and transparent rating system releasing the data for the news genre. It is only this immediate action, after a year of wrongful targeting, that will allow the news broadcasters to be on a rightful level-playing field again.”