Mumbai: In a press conference held on Saturday, the Mumbai Police have laid out details of a forensic audit provided by BARC that showed evidence of TRP manipulation that put Republic TV in the top spot. They have also confirmed the role of ex-BARC CEO Parth Dasgupta, who was arrested on Friday.
"As per the report, two channels are mentioned...Times Now, which was then in the number one position in the genre of English news was thrown to number two due to manipulation of data and Republic TV was elevated to number one," said Milind Bharambe, Joint Commissioner of Police. In response to questions posed by a journalist he emphasised that the drop to 'number two' position had been a "deliberate" decision made in order to push Republic TV to top spot.
He pointed out that the report specified that TRP ratings and viewership levels seemed "pre-decided" and also revealed that there was a "cartelization" of top officers in BARC. The report looks at data over the 2016-2019 period.
"This report which came out in July 2020 vindicates our investigation done later and without actually having any knowledge of the report," Bharambe said. "Names of certain persons arrested recently appeared in the beginning but we waited for evidence before making arrests."
Confirming recent reports that ex-BARC CEO Parth Dasgupta and ex COO Romil Ramgarhia had been feeding data from BARC systems to Republic executives like CEO Vikas Khanchandani, the spokesperson said it was not just data from households that had been manipulated but that even data at the head office level had also undergone manipulation according to the third-parry audit.
The forensic report compiled by BARC also contains 44 weeks of data analysis using three separate methodologies, the Bharambe said.
Earlier, reports from sources in the Mumbai Police had alleged that Ramgarhia had recieved benefits such as holiday packages and coupons from Republic TV for manipulating TRP ratings.
A total of 15 people have been arrested so far in the case, with two having turned approver for the police. Two top executives of Republic TV including Vikas Khanchandani and Ghanshyam Singh have also been arrested and are currently out on bail.