Former Chief Executive Officer of the Broadcast Audience Research Council Partho Dasgupta was on Friday sent to police custody till December 28, the Mumbai Mirror reported. The Mumbai Police arrested Dasgupta on Thursday in connection with the television rating points manipulation case.
Mumbai Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime) Milind Bharambe said that a forensic audit report of the rating agency’s data has revealed that they were being manipulated at least since 2016, Times Now reported. Bharambe said that the manipulations which were done to a greater extent for English and Telugu news channels, resulted in showing Republic TV as the top ranked channel, in terms of ratings.
He said that according to the forensic audit report, ratings data of 44 weeks, beginning in mid-2017, revealed that the data was manipulated to benefit Republic TV, at the cost of two other channels, Times Now and CNN-News 18. Bharambe read excerpts from e-mails and chats exchanged between former officials of BARC, which suggest that the ratings of these two channels were suppressed, while those of Republic TV were kept unchanged.
“The [audit] report mentions quite a few e-mails and chats between officials which point towards all these manipulations and which are absolutely incriminating,” the police officer said. He pointed out that the report that was submitted in July this year, vindicated the Mumbai Police, which began its investigation into the scam only in October.
Dasgupta’s arrest on Thursday, was the 15th in the case, since the inquiry was launched. Last week, the police had arrested the agency’s former Chief Operating Officer Romil Ramgarhia. Republic TV Chief Executive Officer Vikas Khanchandani was also arrested in the case but given bail on December 16.
A fake TRP racket was uncovered in October when the Broadcast Audience Research Council filed a complaint through Hansa Research Group – one of BARC’s vendors on engagement with panel homes, or “people’s meters”. Some of the channels were accused of rigging their TRPs by bribing some households to watch it. On Friday, Bharambe said that apart from rigging the households, there was evidence that data which came after that, was also manipulated at the level of BARC’s officials.
Several Republic TV officials have already been questioned in the case. Apart from Republic TV, Box Cinema and Marathi channel Fakt Marathi were the others named during the preliminary investigation.