TRP scam: WhatsApp chats between Arnab Goswami, ex-BARC CEO leaked
The Mumbai Police, which is probing the alleged TRP (Television Rating Points) scam, has reportedly released alleged WhatsApp chats between Republic TV editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami and ex-CEO of Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC), Partho Dasgupta. Over 500 pages of their chats were leaked, which could be used as potential evidence in the case. Screenshots of their conversations have gone viral on social media. Here's more.
Chats reveal Goswami's efforts to manipulate TRPs in his favor
According to reports, the alleged WhatsApp chats between Goswami and Dasgupta reveal crucial information about the former's proximity with the Prime Minister's Office as well as the ruling government at the Centre. They also reveal Goswami's efforts to manipulate TRPs in his favor, among many other things. The chats also show Goswami making claims about how much reach he has at the Centre.
Majority of chats date back to 2019
The 500-page document containing alleged WhatsApp chats between Goswami and Dasgupta shows that it concerns a case filed with the Kandivali Police. The majority of the conversations date back to 2019, while there are some chats from 2017 as well.
Dasgupta dubs I&B Minister Javadekar 'useless' in one chat
The "leaked chats" include Goswami's remarks about how Republic TV dominated the media space and could break news way ahead of its competitors. In one chat, talking about the channel's success, Goswami tells Dasgupta, "All ministers are with us." In a more concerning message, where Goswami talks about meeting I&B Minister Prakash Javadekar regarding some help from the PMO, Dasgupta says, "He is useless."
The damning leaked WhatsApp chats: Prashant Bhushan
Advocate Prashant Bhushan tweeted screenshots of Goswami and Dasgupta's alleged WhatsApp conversations, saying, "These are a few snapshots of the damning leaked WhatsApp chats." "They show many conspiracies & unprecedented access to power in this govt; gross abuse of his media & his position as power broker. In any Rule of law country, he would be in jail for long (sic)," he added.
Take a look at what Bhushan posted on Twitter
These are a few snapshots of the damning leaked WhatsApp chats between BARC CEO #ArnabGoswami. They show many conspiraciesunprecedented access to power in this govt; gross abuse of his mediahis position as power broker. In any Rule of law country, he would be in jail for long pic.twitter.com/6aGOR6BRQJ— Prashant Bhushan (@pbhushan1) January 15, 2021
TRP scam case hearing adjourned till January 29
Interestingly, Goswami's alleged chats with Dasgupta have emerged on a day the Bombay High Court adjourned the hearing in the TRP scam case till January 29. A division bench comprising Justices SS Shinde and Manish Pitale was hearing the matter. The Mumbai Police also told the HC it wouldn't take any coercive action against the Republic TV chief till January 29.
Alleged TRP scam came to light in October
To recall, the alleged TRP scam surfaced in October 2020 when BARC filed a complaint through Hansa Research Group (contracted by BARC to conduct research) alleging that some TV channels were rigging TRPs in their favor. Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh later named Republic TV and two other channels in the matter and said several channels were misusing confidential data for wrongful gains.
Dasgupta misused his official position to manipulate TRPs: Police
The Mumbai Police, which is investigating the alleged scam, alleged Dasgupta misused his official position to manipulate the TRPs of certain TV channels. It also alleged he connived with the accused in the case, including Goswami, to rig the TRP ratings to make Republic TV the "No.1" channel. It also said Goswami paid Dasgupta to manipulate Republic TV's TRPs since its launch in 2017.
Dasgupta was arrested by Mumbai Police in December
In fact, the Mumbai Police recently told the Bombay HC that it has "found evidence on record through investigation with Broadcasting Audience Research Council (BARC) against Republic TV and Arnab." To note, a number of people associated with Republic TV have been arrested by the Mumbai Police, including Dasgupta. He was arrested on December 24 and his bail plea was also rejected recently.