MUMBAI: Republic TV editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami appears to have slipped deeper into the murky waters after former Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) India chief executive officer Partho Dasgupta has reportedly admitted to have receiving gratifications from the former.
Dasgupta has said in a purportedly handwritten statement to Mumbai Police that he received US$12,000 from Goswami for two separate family holidays and a total of Rs 40 lakh over three years for manipulating ratings in favour of the news channel. The purported confession has been submitted in a supplementary chargesheet filed in the TRP scam case.
The chargesheet said Dasgupta’s statement was recorded on December 27, 2020, in the presence of two witnesses.
In the purported statement Dasgupta is said to have stated: “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.
“I worked with my team to ensure manipulation of TRP ratings that made Republic TV get No 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 cash for my France and Switzerland family trip … Also in 2019 Arnab Goswami had personally met me at St Regis and given me $ 6000 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 Parel Hotel and gave me Rs 10 lakh each time …”
According to media reports, Dasgupta’s legal aides have described the statement to be “one taken under duress and it has no evidentiary value at the court of law”.
The 3,600-page supplementary chargesheet, filed by Mumbai Police on January 11, also includes WhatsAap chats between Partho Dasgupta and Arnab Goswami, a BARC forensic audit report and statements of 59 persons, including former BARC employees and cable operators.
The BARC forensic audit report also named other news channels such as Times Now and Aaj Tak of alleged manipulation as well as “pre-fixing” of ratings for the channels by BARC’s top executives. A supplementary chargesheet was also filed against former BARC chief operating officer Romil Ramgarhia and Republic Media Network CEO Vikas Khanchandani. The initial chargesheet was filed in November last year against 12 people.