Guwahati: In a sensational revelation, the Mumbai Police claimed it received a handwritten statement from the former CEO of Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC), Partho Dasgupta, wherein he agreed that he received US$12,000 from Republic TV Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami for two separate holidays and Rs 40 lakh over three years to manipulate ratings in favour of the news channel headed by Goswami.
These charges were filed in the supplementary chargesheet in the TRP scam case.
A BARC forensic audit report was also submitted along with the 3,600-page supplementary charge sheet filed by Mumbai Police on January 11. The audit is supported by WhatsApp chats between Dasgupta and Goswami, and statements of 59 persons, including former council employees and cable operators.
Republic TV, Times Now and Aaj Tak are among the several news channels named in the audit report. These channels have allegedly manipulated as well as “prefixed” ratings by BARC’s top executives.
After the first charge sheet was filed against 12 persons in November 2020, a supplementary charge sheet was filed against Dasgupta, former BARC COO Romil Ramgharia and Republic Media Network CEO Vikas Khanchandani.
Dasgupta’s statement was recorded on December 27, 2020, at 5:15 pm in the presence of two witnesses by the Crime Intelligence Unit, media reports added.
Denying the statement, Dasgupta’s lawyer Arjun Singh said that the statement would have been recorded under duress.
When Indian Express tried to contact a member of Goswami’s legal team, he declined to comment. Arnab Goswami has strongly denied any wrongdoing and stressed on the fact that he was being targeted.
A BARC audit report, dated July 24, 2020, was also included in the chargesheet which states that evidence “indicated favouritism shown to few channels” and “in some cases, we suspect that the ratings were pre-decided”.