While rejecting the bail plea filed by former CEO of BARC Partho Dasgupta, the Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Sudhir Bhajipale at Esplanade, Mumbai observed that he played a vital role in the alleged Television Rating Points (TRP) manipulation scam.
Dasgupta was arrested by Mumbai Police last month. The Mumbai Police have accused him of manipulating the Television Rating Points (TRP) of Republic TV and it’s Hindi division, republic Bharat.
The police have further stated that Dasgupta was the “mastermind” behind the scam. Romil Ramgarhia, former BARC COO has also been accused of being an accomplice to the crime.
Dasgupta has been accused of doing this for financial gain. The Police remand note has stated that Goswami had given Dasgupta “payment in lakhs,” which he was spending on expensive, luxury items like jewellery. The items have been seized from his house.
In his order, the magistrate said the material available on record shows the involvement of the accused in the alleged crime.
As per the court order details, Dasgupta was the CEO of BARC from June 2013 to November 2019.
The material collected by the investigating officer shows that Dasgupta manipulated TRP for particular channels by using his office as the CEO of BARC, the court observed.
The court order also said that the accused is the “most influential person who worked as CEO and the other persons or accused are yet to be interrogated”.
“In such circumstances, it is the requirement of further investigation( which is still underway) to keep the present accused away from the wanted accused and other material witnesses,” it added.
The court was of the view that Dasgupta’s release will hamper the further investigation, which is still in progress.
One of the grounds cited by Dasgupta for seeking release on bail was parity with the other accused, including BARC’s former chief operating officer Romil Ramgarhia.
The court, however, noted that no doubt the other accused are released on bail, but they have played a different role than Dasgupta in the commission of the offence.
“Considering the said fact, the principle of parity is not applicable in case of the present applicant,” it said.
Dasgupta filed the bail plea on December 30, 2020, after the court remanded him in judicial custody.
In his application, Dasgupta had claimed he was only an employee of the BARC and not a “whole and sole (authority)”, and that there are the board of directors and a disciplinary committee above him in the council.
What was the TRP Scam?
In the month of October, Mumbai Police Officer Param Bir Singh announced that he had busted a scam that had been taking place to manipulate the Television Rating Point (TRP) and boost advertising revenues.
One of the main accused was Republic TV, along with two Marathi channels- Box Cinema and Fakt Marathi.
The alleged scam came to light last year when rating agency BARC filed a complaint through Hansa Research Group, saying certain television channels were rigging TRP numbers.
Following the allegation, BARC paused its weekly rating for all news channels for the next three months. The time would be used to bring the ratings to global standards.
TRP is a metric used by TV channels to indicate the percentage of the target audience reached.