The former CEO of Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) India Partho Dasgupta has alleged in a handwritten statement to Mumbai Police that he received $12,000 from Republic TV Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami as a bribe to manipulate viewership ratings in favour of his TV channel.
Dasgupta’s statement says he received from Goswami $12,000 for two separate holidays and a total of Rs 40 lakh over three years, in return for “rigging” the ratings to push his channel to the top, the report said.
A massive 3,600-page supplementary chargesheet, filed by Mumbai Police on January 11, also includes a BARC forensic audit report, WhatsApp chats purportedly between Dasgupta and Goswami, and statements of 59 persons, including former council employees and cable operators. The audit report names several news channels, including Republic, Times Now, and Aaj Tak. It lists instances of alleged manipulation as well as 'pre-fixing' of ratings for the channels by BARC’s top executives.
Dasgupta’s statement, according to The Indian Express, reads: “I have known Arnab Goswami since 2004. We used to work together in Times Now. I joined BARC as CEO in 2013. Arnab Goswami launched Republic in 2017. Even before launching Republic TV he would talk to me about plans for the launch and indirectly hint at helping him to get good ratings to his channel. Goswami knew very well that I know how the TRP system works. He also alluded to helping me out in the future.”
A first chargesheet was filed against 12 persons in November 2020. The supplementary chargesheet was filed against Dasgupta, former BARC COO Romil Ramgarhia and Republic Media Network CEO Vikas Khanchandani. According to the second chargesheet, Dasgupta’s statement was recorded in the office of the Crime Intelligence Unit on December 27, 2020, at 5.15 pm, in the presence of two witnesses.
Dasgupta’s lawyer denied these allegations saying that the statement would have been recorded under duress and it does not have any evidentiary value in the court of law.