On Monday, 18 January, the News Broadcasters Association released a statement stating that the alleged WhatsApp exchanges between Arnab Goswami, Republic TV editor-in-chief, and Patho Dasgupta, former CEO of the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC), establish a clear conspiracy between the two in manipulating the Television ratings.
As a result, the NBA has proposed expulsion of Republic TV from the Indian Broadcasting Foundation.
The NBA press release states that “month after month, by fraudulently manually reducing ratings of other channels to give Republic TV an unfair advantage, the manipulation of ratings was done.” It also mentioned that it was shocking to see the messages exchanged between Goswami and Dasgupta.
“The Board also called for the exclusion of Republic TV from the BARC rating system until the final court order on the matter, stating that “the NBA requests that IBF membership of Republic TV be suspended with immediate effect until the case involving the manipulation of ratings is pending before the court.
“These WhatsApp messages not only reflect rating manipulation but are also about powerplay,” the statement also said. The messages exchanged relate to the recruitment of secretaries, the reorganization of the Government, access to the PMO (Prime Minister’s Office) and the functioning of the Information and Broadcasting Ministry.”
“Emphasizing the lack of transparency of the BARC, the NBA called on the Broadcast Council to “make a direct statement on the veracity of its ratings during the audit period and also carry out an audit of the Hindi news genre; Expunge the data of the erring broadcaster and restate from the beginning the real status of the rankings of all news channels; clarify the specific measures taken by BARC to protect the ratings in the last three months.
The statement further claimed that the continued release of ‘meddled data’ by BARC has resulted in credibility losses as well as huge financial losses for news broadcasters, and therefore the council must have a reason for the same.