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Sunday, July 25, 2021

Times Network Contemplates Legal Action In TRP Scam

BARC Accused Of Systemic And Deliberate Inaction

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Raju Vernekar
Raju Vernekar
I am a mumbai based journalist having worked with many daily newspapers.

INDIA. Mumbai: The Times Network intends to initiate appropriate proceedings against the individual perpetrators of the Television Rating Points (TRP) fraud as per provisions of criminal and civil laws.

Bennett Coleman & Company Ltd. (BCCL) on Saturday released a statement here, regarding the suspected large scale manipulation of TRP, The parent company of Times Network stated that it “found significant abnormalities in Market wise ratings of that channel indicating ground level tampering and/ or deliberate intervention at the raw data level”.

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The statement was also released on “Times Now” twitter. The statement reads is: Bennett Coleman & Company Ltd. (BCCL) is a subscriber of viewership data from Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC), for its Channels including “Times Now” operating under Times Network.

“Since 2017 and especially after the launch of Republic TV, in May 2017, BCCL/ Times Network suspected large scale manipulation of ratings about illegal usage of multiple logical channel numbers(LCNs) and out of Electronic programming guides (EPGs) placement by Republic TV. We also found significant abnormalities in market-wise ratings of that channel indicating ground level tampering and/ or deliberate intervention at the raw data level to favour them. Times Network repeatedly complained about these irregularities to BARC for almost 2 years but got no resolution as the complaints routinely resulted in stock replies”.

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“The press statement of Joint Commissioner (Crimes) of Mumbai Police on 25 December .2020, as part of the ongoing investigation into the BARC TRP scam, made it clear that proof had been unearthed exposing manipulation by BARC officials for the benefit of Republic TV in 2017/18. As per BARC’s Forensic Audit of July 2020, as well as the multiple emails and WhatsApp chats of that period, which has been accessed by Mumbai Police, it is now clear that Times Now’s TRPs were indeed manually reduced by BARC officials headed by Partho Dasgupta and Romil Ramgarhia before publishing, to give undue advantage to Republic TV in the English News Genre and thereby fraudulently declare Republic TV as No.1, even when Times Now was consistently higher by a large margin and was the undisputed leader of the Genre”.

Times Now Vs Republic TV

“BARC’s culpability is compounded in that even after unearthing this gross misreporting of an entire Genre for a protracted period vide the Forensic Audit Report of July 2020, leading to significant financial distress for Times Network, BARC’s present Management and Board kept this matter under wraps and took no action against any of the perpetrators other than asking some of the errant officials to silently resign”.

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“The inaction as far as we can see is systemic and deliberate, as had it not been for the Mumbai Police investigators who stumbled upon this report in December 2020, BARC had no intention in the first place to either inform us as affected party or penalise the fraudulent broadcaster. This constitutes moral turpitude, breach of trust and puts a question on Code of conduct and Ethical standards of the present BARC Board and Management. It is worth pondering as to whether such a Board and Management can indeed preside over a system which puts out ratings that impact ad spends worth over Rs. 30000 Crore per annum and impacts the livelihoods of thousands of employees engaged in the Broadcast sector.
Multiple attempts from Times Network to get an official statement of explanation from BARC in the last few weeks have been rebuffed”.

“Due to this unacceptable and unpardonable act of BARC, Times Network has suffered huge financial losses and irreparable damage to its reputation/ goodwill. Times Network/ BCCL is contemplating all possible legal actions against BARC for non-redressal of its grievances, as available in law for wrongful loss caused. Times Network also intends to initiate appropriate proceedings against the individual perpetrators of the fraud as per provisions of Criminal and Civil laws”.

When contacted telephonically by the “Transcontinental Times”, the reaction of BARC could not be obtained since no BARC member was available for comments.

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