New Delhi: The Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) Sunday accused Republic TV of “misrepresentation”, after the Arnab Goswami-led channel quoted a communication from the viewership-tracking agency to claim it was innocent of malpractice in the Television Rating Points (TRP) scam.
Republic TV is one of three channels — the other two are Marathi-language Fakt Marathi and Box Cinema — that are being investigated by the Mumbai Police for allegedly manipulating viewership ratings to boost their advertising revenue. The Mumbai Police has arrested six persons in the case, including the owners of Fakt Marathi and Box Cinema.
However, Republic TV claims the Mumbai Police is levelling allegations against it as a “desperate measure”, because of its reportage on certain cases, such as the Palghar lynching and actor Sushant Singh Rajput’s death.
In a statement issued on Twitter Sunday afternoon, Republic TV cited an “official email” from BARC and claimed that “there is not a single complaint or malpractice found against Republic TV, Republic Bharat or any other affiliate of the News Network”.
It claimed that a BARC email to Republic Media Network Group CEO Vikas Khanchandani “specifically confirms that there is no malpractice by the network”.
#RepublicExposesParamBir | News Release: With the BARC email in public, the fake news-based campaign against Republic Media Network led by Mumbai Police Commissioner comes to an end pic.twitter.com/UEgGuIxeeC
— Republic (@republic) October 18, 2020
“With the disclosure of BARC, the fake news-based campaign against Republic led by Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh comes to an end,” the statement added.
Hours later, BARC issued a statement saying it is “dismayed at misrepresentation of its communication by Republic Network”. The council added that it has not commented on the ongoing investigation and that it is providing necessary assistance to the law enforcement agency.
“BARC India is highly disappointed with the actions of the Republic Network by disclosing private and confidential communications and misrepresenting the same,” it said.
“BARC India reiterates that it has not commented on the ongoing investigation and without prejudice to BARC India’s rights, it expresses its dismay at the actions of the Republic Network,” it added.
With the emergence of the TRP scam raising questions over the viewership ratings released by BARC every week, the council decided earlier this week to suspend the release of individual ratings for channels in the news genre pending a review of the process.
Republic moves Bombay High Court
Apart from posting the tweet, Republic also published on its website an article titled “BARC Email Shreds Param Bir Singh’s TRP Case Lies Against Republic; False Campaign Exposed”.
According to the report, BARC’s email dated 17 October said that “if there was any disciplinary action initiated against ARG Outlier Media Private Ltd (which owns Republic TV), then BARC India would have communicated the same to you along with necessary documents for your response”.
Relying on this purported sentence, the article concluded, “Thus, this email proves that BARC did not allege any malpractice against the Republic Media Network, and yet, the Mumbai Police commissioner floated a factually-bereft campaign against it, which has been comprehensively exposed at every turn.”
Meanwhile, ARG Outlier Media Pvt Ltd and Republic Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami moved the Bombay High Court Friday, seeking to quash the FIR lodged against the channel in the case. The plea also demands transfer of the investigation from the Mumbai Police Crime Branch to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
This was after the Supreme Court Thursday refused to entertain a similar petition and directed the Republic Media Group to approach the high court instead.