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The former CEO of Barc obtained money from Arnab and reduced the TRPs of other channels: police

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Mumbai: The Mumbai Criminal Branch, which is investigating TV Rating Points (TRP) manipulation fraud, has claimed that the arrested defendant and Partho Dasgupta, former CEO of the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) , was in direct contact with the owner of Republic Television, Arnab Goswami, and had received thousands of rupees at least six times in Indian and foreign currency from Goswami between 2017 and 2018 at different locations in Mumbai.

At time of going to print, Republic TV had not issued a statement on the development and representatives of the channel were not available for comment.

Dasgupta was brought before a lower court on Monday and his police detention was extended until December 31. He was arrested in Pune on December 24 while on the run. Later, the police tracked him down to Goa. When the team arrived in Goa, Dasgupta had left for Nashik.

“We found out that he left in a BARC-owned Mercedes AMG car; however, the car was not found at any naka tollbooth, ”said assistant inspector Sachin Vaze, who is part of the investigation team. The Mumbai criminal branch sent another team to Pune. After a police officer noticed a similar person sitting in a Crete, Dasgupta was removed from the vehicle and driven to Mumbai, Vaze added. “Dasgupta in his statement revealed that he met Goswami in 2004, and they worked together on a channel,” Vaze said.

A person familiar with the matter who asked not to be named said Dasgupta and Goswami have known each other for years and worked together for Times Now, where the former was in charge of marketing and the latter in charge of editorial operations. Their association continued when Goswami left to start Republic and Dasgupta moved on to run BARC.

“Goswami then took their help to manipulate the TRPs. They met at a five-star hotel in 2017. Goswami had given her $ 6,000 for a vacation trip to Sweden and Denmark. With that amount, Dasgupta allegedly bought a wristwatch and silver ornaments worth Rs 2.22 lakh, which the police recovered from him, ”Vaze added.

According to the person quoted above, Dasgupta was very impressed with Goswami, and the television in his room at BARC was always tuned to Times Now (as long as Goswami was there) and later to Republic TV. BARC is a joint industry body, a Section 8 company (a section for the incorporation of an entity dedicated to research, welfare, charity, etc.) governed by an industry board of directors from the TV. The person added that BARC guidelines say that a channel’s rating needs to be reported only 12 weeks after its launch (because most channels spend heavily on marketing in the first few weeks, resulting in a false increase). Republic Hindi’s rating, this person added, was reported within a few weeks.

Police have also found evidence in terms of WhatsApp chats and messages exchanged between Goswami and Dasgupta. They recovered Dasgupta’s official laptop and other electronic devices that were sent to a forensic science lab to retrieve data, Vaze said. Dasgupta allegedly assisted Goswami in manipulating TRP by reducing data from other channels to make Republic number one, Vaze added.

The person quoted above said that when the rating of one channel is manipulated upward, that of all other channels sees a drop. But it also renders almost all ratings useless.

On Monday, the police recorded the statement by Republic TV COO Priya Mukherjee.

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