Arnab Goswami gave me $12,000, Rs. 40L: Former BARC CEO
Republic TV Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami paid former Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) CEO Partho Dasgupta $12,000 and Rs. 40 lakh over three years for favorable TRPs (Television Rating Points), according to a supplementary charge sheet filed in the TRP scam case. The case had come to light last October when the BARC had alleged that certain television channels were manipulating their TV ratings.
According to The Indian Express, Dasgupta agreed to have taken money from Goswami in a handwritten note included in the 3,600-page supplementary charge sheet, filed by Mumbai Police on January 11. Reportedly, the charge sheet also 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 supplementary charge sheet was filed against Dasgupta, former BARC COO Romil Ramgarhia, and Republic Media Network CEO Vikas Khanchandani. The first charge sheet had been filed against 12 persons in November 2020. According to the second charge sheet, Dasgupta's statement was recorded in the office of the Crime Intelligence Unit on December 27, 2020, at 5:15 pm, in the presence of two witnesses.
In the note, Dasgupta said he has known Goswami since 2004 as they 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."
Further, Dasgupta reportedly said Goswami had met him at St Regis hotel, Lower Parel, and given him $6,000 for his France and Switzerland family trip in 2017. He had again given him $6,000 for his Sweden and Denmark family trip in 2019, Dasgupta said. In 2018 and 2019, Goswami met Dasgupta and gave him Rs. 10 lakh cash both times, the latter said.
However, Dasgupta's lawyer Arjun Singh said, "We totally deny this allegation as the statement would have been recorded under duress. It does not have any evidentiary value in the court of law." Goswami's lawyer refused to comment on TIE's queries.
The audit report—dated July 24, 2020—attached in the charge sheet names several news channels, including Republic, Times Now, and Aaj Tak for alleged manipulation as well as "pre-fixing" of ratings for the channels by BARC's top executives. The charge sheet states that the evidence "indicated favoritism shown to few channels" and "in some cases, we suspect that the ratings were pre-decided."
The report mentions the alleged suppression of viewership for Times Now to boost Republic's rankings. Six top executives of BARC were involved in the "manipulation of ratings and violation of the code of ethics" between 2018-2019, 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 Manashi Kumar, it states.