In a major development in the Television Rating Point (TRP) scam, over 500-pages of Whatsapp chat messages between Republic TV CEO Arnab Goswami and Former Chief Executive Officer of Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) Partho Das Gupta have been allegedly leaked by the Mumbai police, several media outlets reported.
The transcript begins in July 2019 and extends until mid-October the same year. It reveals damning information related to Goswami's proximity with the Prime Minister's office (PMO) and members of the ruling BJP government, his efforts to manipulate TRPs in his channel's favour and seek help from the government. Some of the chats also show Goswami assuring help from the PMO with relations to the TRPs.
In one of the chats, it was found that a confidential BARC letter was sent by the former BARC CEO to Arnab Goswami saying that he had jammed the News Broadcasters Association (NBA) while Goswami allegedly replied he might meet the Prime Minister regarding the matter.
While Dasgupta dubs Union Minister Prakash Javadekar as "useless" in one the chats, Goswami purportedly says that "all ministers are with us" while discussing the channel's chance of succeeding.
According to few messages, Dasgupta was seen telling Goswami that Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) reform proposal to measure TV viewership digitally using special software installed in the set-top box would politically hurt both Republic channel and the BJP. Dasgupta was also seen asking Goswami to use his influence with the ruling party leaders to sabotage TRAI reform to install automatic digital measurement software and replace the manual system of meter installation households.
There was also a mention of one 'AS' in the chat logs. The former BARC CEO asked Goswami if he could help him by telling 'AS' to put pressure on TRAI. In response, Goswami asked Dasgupta to send him 3 points how TRAI could work against 'AS' politically.
It may be stated that Goswami's alleged Whatsapp chat with the former BARC CEO was released on the same day when the Bombay High Court adjourned the hearing in the TRP scam case till January 29.
The TRP scam came to light in October last year when BARC filed a complaint through Hansa Research Group alleging that certain television channels, including Republic TV, were rigging TRP numbers for their benefits. TRP shows what percentage of programme's target audience viewed it – 'higher the TRP, bigger the audience', making the channel a favourite for advertisers.
Below is the full pdf file issued by Mumbai police according to the tweet.
Advocate Prashant Bhusan tweeted on the same while sharing screenshots of the leaked Whatsapp chat.
"These are a few snapshots of the damning leaked WhatsApp chats between BARC CEO & #ArnabGoswami. They show many conspiracies & unprecedented access to power in this govt; gross abuse of his media&his position as power broker. In any Rule of law country, he would be in jail for long," he tweeted.
Along with Bhusan, many have condemned the alleged 'lobbying for power' with social media exploding after the leaks got viral.
In December, the Mumbai Police had said that Goswami paid 'lakhs of rupees' to former CEO of BARC to 'increase' the TRP of Republic Bharat Hindi and Republic TV English news channel.
It may be further mentioned if the chat logs are authentic then Arnab Goswami is likely to face torrid times ahead.