December 26, 2020 5:40:39 am
THE MUMBAI Crime Branch, investigating the alleged Television Rating Point (TRP) scam, on Friday said it received an audit report of BARC last week that confirms that TRPs of channels were manipulated under the previous BARC management.
BARC or Broadcast Audience Research Council is responsible for measuring TRPs of channels. Its former CEO Partho Dasgupta was arrested on Thursday based on this report. Earlier this month, the Mumbai police arrested Republic COO Ramil Ramgarhia, who had resigned from BARC in July after the audit report submitted to BARC by a third party allegedly showed his involvement in fixing TRPs.
Joint commissioner of police (crime) Milind Bharambe said that they received the audit report from BARC a week ago. The forensic audit was commissioned after a new management took over at BARC in January this year and received whistleblower complaints, police said.
“BARC had received the report in July this year. The report said from a period of May 2017-November 2019 TRPs of English and Telugu news channels had been fudged. It showed that TRPs of channels like Times Now had been reduced so that Republic would appear to be no. 1 by analysing selectively,” Bharambe said.
The Mumbai police said they were unaware of this audit report until last week. A chargesheet in the case names six channels including Republic for fixing TRPs, and the police believe that the report will provide crucial evidence against the allegedly errant channels.
The officer added that according to the report, in some cases “rating appeared to be pre-decided” and that there was “cartelisation” of some former senior BARC officials to assist particular channels.
While BARC received the report in July, it was only after the Mumbai police wrote to them specifically seeking all documents relating to the alleged TRP scam that it sent the report to the police last week, nearly two months after the FIR was registered.
Bharambe added that in addition to the BARC report, they have also secured email trails of former employees from BARC servers that substantiates what was found in the third-party audit report.
Bharambe read out excerpts of the contents of some of the mails he said they retrieved which stated, “Please find below numbers on English news. As required Times Now numbers were changed while Republic is kept the same.”
Another excerpt that Bharambe read out was, “…Times Now, CNN News 18 will be changed …impressions of Times Now have been decreased drastically across the universe.. the impressions of Republic TV remained unchanged..”
Bharambe read out another mail which he said showed how numbers were selectively analysed. The email that Bharambe said discussed TRPs read, “Don’t think we should edit the statements..we can manage by changing the logic..”
The officer said that there are three methods in which data can be analysed and these methods were tweaked to favour particular channels. The police are investigating the gains received by the accused for favouring particular channels.
Responding to the arrest of its former CEO and COO, a BARC India spokesperson said, “The development related to the two 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. It would consequently be inappropriate for BARC to comment any further at this stage.” The statement further reads,
“Every employee of BARC India is expected to conform to a Code of Conduct & 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’s a responsibility we owe all our stakeholders.”
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