In a remand report submitted before a court on Monday, the Mumbai Police said that Republic TV editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami had paid “lakhs of rupees” to Partho Dasgupta, former CEO of the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC), to “increase” the Television Rating Points (TRPs) of the two Republic news channels.
“ ..When Dasgupta was the Broadcast Audience Research Council, or BARC, CEO, Arnab Goswami and other accused in the case conspired to illegally increase the TRPs of Republic Bharat Hindi news channel and Republic TV English news channel. In order to do that, Goswami on several occasions paid Dasgupta lakhs of rupees, it has been established in the investigation,” the police told the metropolitan magistrate’s court while seeking the remand of Dasgupta, who was arrested last week.
This is the first time that the police have spelt out Goswami’s alleged role in the TRP case. Goswami was not available for comment on Monday.
While the remand report mentions “Republic owners” in the list of accused, it does not name Goswami specifically.
According to the report, Dasgupta used the money to purchase jewellery and other valuables that were seized from his residence. “The purchases include one Tag Heuer watch worth approximately Rs 1 lakh and imitation jewellery and stones worth Rs 2.22 lakh,” police said.
Assistant Police Inspector Sachin Vaze told The Indian Express that Dasgupta, during questioning, said that Goswami had met him at least three times, in separate hotels in Mumbai, and “made payments worth lakhs in cash, including once in US dollars.” He said Goswami and Dasgupta had worked together at Times Now.
Vaze said that besides Dasgupta and Romil Ramgarhia, former BARC COO who was arrested earlier this month, police suspect the involvement of some other former BARC employees too.
Last week, police said the recent arrests were made after they received a third party audit report, sought by the current BARC management. According to police, the audit report, submitted to BARC in July this year, said the ratings of channels like Times Now had been reduced so that Republic would top the TRP points. Police said they found some emails between BARC employees that backed the findings of the audit report.
In October, the Mumbai Police had registered an FIR alleging the fudging of TRPs by certain TV channels. It later said at a press conference that investigations had found that three channels — Republic TV, Box Cinemas and Fakt Marathi — were prima facie involved in manipulating TRPs.
BARC is the industry body that measures TRPs.
In November, police filed a chargesheet against 12 persons for allegedly tampering with the ‘BAR-o-meters’ installed at homes to measure TRPs. A second chargesheet will now be filed against Dasgupta, Ramgarhia and others.