Tribune News Service
New Delhi, January 15
A supplementary chargesheet filed by the Mumbai Police in the ongoing TRP scam alleges that the now arrested ex-chief executive officer of the Broadcast Audience Research Council, Partho Dasgupta, used his position to help Republic TV editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami maintain TRP lead.
The chargesheet has 500 pages of WhatsApp conversations between Arnab and Dasgupta. Parts of the chats, which created ripples on the social media today, reveal Dasgupta allegedly told Arnab that the new Telecom Regulatory Authority of India proposal to reform the TRP measurement mechanism could “harm both the Republic TV and BJP”.
The conversation is dated March 25, 2019, with Dasgupta sending Arnab a confidential BARC letter on WhatsApp to say he had jammed the NBA, and asking for Arnab’s help through the PMO. In response, Arnab promises, “Noted and will happen.” The Republic TV chief then says he is meeting the PM coming Thursday.
Sharing snapshots of the chats on the social media, advocate Prashant Bhushan tweeted: “The leaked WhatsApp chats of #ArnabGoswami are far more explosive than #RadiaTapes. They show the unholy nexus of media with those in power; It shows how TRP is manipulated; It shows how cynically fake news is propagated; Above all, it lays bare the prime Dalal of Dalali street!”
Bhushan said the chats showed “unprecedented access to power in this government.” Several netizens questioned the chats which reveal the alleged role of Dasgupta in convincing Arnab to thwart the TRAI proposal of measuring TV viewership digitally through a specially installed software in a set-top box.
The conversations reveal the proximity between Dasgupta and Arnab with the former writing to Arnab on May 5, 2017, “Best wishes boss from my heart and not from BARC. I really want you to succeed. “Arnab replies to the thread, saying, “Life is so strange Partho. Had you not met me in Delhi, I would have been languishing in NDTV.” Another chat dated July 18, 2017 has Dasgupta asking Arnab who the next Information and Broadcasting Minister would be and Arnab replying: “Smriti…Was worried about J.”
Another chat reveals Dasgupta asking Arnab if he could get him a media adviser’s role in the PMO. Yet another conversation has Arnab telling the ex-BARC chief: “The PM is being dealt differently.” The chats became public on a day when the Mumbai Police told the Bombay HC it would not take coercive action against Goswami till January 29 in the TRP case.
TRAI PROPOSAL THAT WAS NOT TO BE
The TRAI proposal (which Dasgupta allegedly asked Arnab to get nixed using his influence with the PMO) to digitally measure TRPs ultimately fell through after several TV channels resisted it, saying the installation of an automatic digital measurement software would cost a lot. TRPs continue to be measured manually through meters installed in households.