Mumbai, June 23: Senior television journalist Arnab Goswami illegally tampered with the TRPs in connivance of the then CEO of the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) Partho Dasgupta to improve ratings of Republic TV channels and paid him for his help, as per the supplementary chargesheet filed by the Mumbai Police who cited Whatsapp chats between the duo as a "crucial evidence".
The Crime Intelligence Unit (CIU) of the Mumbai Police on Tuesday filed a third charge sheet before a magistrate's court here in the alleged fake Television Ratings Points (TRP) scam. Besides Goswami, the Editor-in-Chief of Republic TV, and ARG Outlier Media that runs Republic TV channels, the police also named six other accused including some employees of Republic group channels in the latest charge-sheet.
"We have found evidence to show they (Goswami and Dasgupta) had exchanged confidential information about the BARC repeatedly to benefit Goswami's channels," the chargesheet said. During the period between June 2017 and March 2018 when Dasgupta was working with the BARC, the TRP ratings of an English news channel were illegally manipulated so that they fall below the TRPs of Republic TV channels, which resulted in Rs 431 crore loss to that channel, police said, citing the statement of an executive of the news channel.
Police further said they possess the evidence to show that Goswami had paid Dasgupta in return for the latter's assistance in manipulating the TRPs, "which was evident from the jewellery and expensive items seized from Dasgupta's residence", the chargesheet said. Dasgupta, who had been named as accused in the previous chargesheet, was arrested in December last year. He is currently out on bail.
The first chargesheet in the TRP rigging case, filed in November last year, had named Dasgupta and Republic TV CEO Vikash Khanchandani. The alleged fake TRP scam came to light in October last year when the rating agency Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) filed a complaint through Hansa Research Group (HRG), alleging that certain television channels were rigging TRP numbers.
The HRG had been tasked with installing barometers for recording channel viewership data at sample households. Police had arrested dozens of people, including the top officials of BARC and Republic TV. Most of them are currently out on bail. In March this year, the Bombay High Court had asked the Mumbai police why Republic TV and Goswami had not been named as accused in the case if the investigators believed to possess adequate evidence against them.
The ARG Outlier Media and Goswami had approached the high court last year, filing a bunch of petitions seeking several reliefs in the alleged TRP scam. They had alleged that the whole case was malafide and they had been targeted for Republic TV's reportage in connection with the death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput and Palghar lynching case last year.