Mumbai Police on Thursday arrested Partho Dasgupta, the former CEO of TV ratings agency BARC, in connection with the TRP scam case. Mr Dasgupta – the fifteenth person to be arrested in the case so far – was taken into custody from Raigad and will be produced in court today.
Last week the police also arrested the former COO of the agency – Romil Ramgarhia – from his residence in Mumbai’s Antop Hill neighbourhood. Mr Ramgarhia allegedly “provided secret and confidential information to certain TV channels to help increase TRP (television rating points).”
A senior police officer told news agency PTI that the authorities had also recovered WhatsApp chats between Mr Ramgarhia and the Director and CEO of ARG Outlier Media Private Limited.
ARG Outlier Media Pvt Ltd owns the Republic Media network, whose CEO – Vikas Khanchandani – was arrested earlier this month. Mr Khanchandani was later granted bail. Republic’s Head of Distribution, Ghanshyam Singh, was arrested last month.
Republic TV anchor Arnab Goswami, who was arrested from his Mumbai home last month in a separate case, is among senior figures from the network named in a charge sheet filed by Mumbai Police.
Republic TV, which is one of three channels being investigated, has denied allegations and accused Mumbai Police of a vendetta because it questioned investigations into Sushant Rajput’s death.
The case was filed in October after Nitin Deokar, an official of Hansa Research – an agency that placed the metres (that record TV viewership data) in sample households – filed a complaint alleging the process was being manipulated.
On investigation Mumbai Police said Republic TV – which claims the highest ratings – was tweaking ratings to get high advertising rates by bribing the households in which metres were installed. The police said they were being paid Rs 400 to Rs 500 per month to keep certain channels on.
TRP – measured by recording viewership data in sample households – is crucial for attracting advertisers and improving revenues at TV channels.
In October, after the scam broke, BARC said it would pause weekly ratings for news channels for three months to “review and augment the current standards”.
With input from PTI