In a sensational disclosure, Arnab Goswami had allegedly informed the then CEO of Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) India, Partho Dasgupta, about his intention to launch Republic TV when he was still at Times Now and sought help for boosting the ratings off of his TV channel. The new revelation, according to The Indian Express, has been made by Dasgupta in his statement recorded before the Mumbai Police’s Crime Intelligence Unit on 27 December last year at 5.15 pm in the presence of two witnesses. If this revelation was not damaging enough for Goswami, Dasgupta also has also reportedly confessed to receiving Rs 40 lakh over the period of three years from Goswami and $12,000 towards his holiday expenses in lieu of manipulating ratings for Republic TV.
“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,” the Indian Express quoted Dasgupta’s statement.
The Mumbai Police submitted 3,600-page supplementary charge-sheet in the TRP Scam case on 11 January. The additional charge-sheet was based on the recording of statements from 59 witnesses including former employees of BARC, WhatsApp chat between Dasgupta and Goswami and the BARC forensic audit report.
Dasgupta, in his statement, told the Mumbai Police that he had worked with his team ‘to ensure manipulation of TRP ratings that made Republic TV get number 1 rating.’ “This would have continued from 2017 to 2019. Towards this, in 2017 Arnab Goswami had personally met me at St Regis hotel, Lower Parel and given me 6000 dollars cash for my France and Switzerland family trip…also in 2019 Arnab Goswami had personally met me at St Regis and given me 6000 dollars for my Sweden and Denmark family trip. Also in 2017, Goswami had personally met me at ITC Parel hotel and given me Rs 20 lakh cash… also in 2018 and 2019… Goswami met me at ITC hotel Parel and gave me Rs 10 lakhs each time…” Indian Express quoted Dasgupta’s statement.
Dasgupta’s lawyer Arjun Singh has denied the allegation against his client saying that the statement may have been recorded under duress.
The BARC forensic audit report from August last year also mentions the suppression of TRPs for Times Now to boost the ratings for Republic TV. According to Indian Express, it also includes a purported conversation between BARC’s top executives and a senior marketing executive of India Today Group on ‘pre-fixing’ Aaj Tak’s ratings.
Dasgupta has been in jail since last month in the TRP Scam case. His WhatsApp chat with Goswami was recently leaked, leaving the Republic TV founder in a huge spot of bother. The Congress has demanded a JPC inquiry alleging that the government had compromised national security by sharing sensitive information on military operations on Balakot airstrikes with him.