Arnab Goswami, the Editor-in-Chief and Managing Director of Republic Media Network, and his wife Samyabrata Ray Goswami are soon expected to be questioned by Mumbai Police in connection with the alleged TV ratings fraud. Mumbai police on Thursday said that promoters and directors of Republic TV will be probed in the scam involving manipulation of Television Rating Points (TRP). They will be summoned either today or tomorrow, Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh said.
Arnab is the sole promoter and Chairman of the board of the Republic Media Network (RMN). Republic TV's parent ARG Outlier Media Private Limited has two directors - Samyabrata Ray Goswami and Arnab Ranjan Goswami.
Arnab and his entities control 80.8 per cent of ARG. Its authorised share capital is Rs 50 lakh and the total paid-up capital stands at Rs 29.93 lakh. The remaining stake is held by Asianet (16.38 per cent) and four Kolkata-based entities RPG Power, Anant Udyog, Purvanchal Leasing and Dynamic Storage. Republic TV claims the highest TRPs among news channels in the country.
The city cops claim to have busted the TRP manipulation racket involving Republic TV and two Marathi channels - Fakt Marathi and Box Cinema. The owners of Marathi channels have already been arrested, police said.
The three channels are alleged to have rigged the apparatus used by Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC), Singh said. According to the police, these channels allegedly bribed households to run some channels continuously even when not at home. "If you see the data, poor uneducated households, who don't speak English were watching only English TV channels," Singh added. Every household was allegedly paid Rs 400-500 per month, he claimed.
Other than these TV channels, cops are also questioning BARC officials in the matter. Nearly 2,000 barometers installed in Mumbai were used to monitor TRPs, Singh said. Rating points are released by the BARC on a weekly basis for TV channels. BARC has given confidential contracts to an agency called 'Hansa' for monitoring these barometers.
The police also said that the bank accounts of these channels will be probed besides the funds they received from advertisers and "whether they are from proceeds of crimes". More channels may also be examined going ahead, Singh noted.
Arnab Goswami's reply
Responding to the allegations, Arnab said the channel would file a criminal defamation case against the police chief. "Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh has made false allegations against Republic TV because we have questioned him in the Sushant Singh Rajput case investigation. Republic TV will file a criminal defamation case against Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh. There is not a single BARC report that mentions Republic TV. The people of India know the truth. Mr. Param Bir Singh's investigation in the Sushant Singh Rajput case is under a cloud and this is a desperate measure because of Republic TV's reportage on Palghar, the Sushant Singh Rajput case or any other case. This kind of targeting only strengthens the resolve of everyone at Republic TV to push for the truth even harder. Param Bir Singh stands completely exposed today, since BARC has not mentioned Republic in any single complaint. He should issue an official apology and get ready to face us in court," Arnab said in a statement.
What BARC says
Meanwhile, commenting on the matter, BARC said that it is ready to provide all support to Mumbai police in the case. "As in all our previous cases of suspected panel homes intrusions, BARC India continues to follow its established vigilance and disciplinary guidelines. BARC remains steadfastly true to its purpose to accurately and faithfully report ' What India Watches'. BARC India appreciates the efforts of the Mumbai Police and will provide the support asked of it," a BARC spokesperson said.