Times Network has issued a statement in reference to the ongoing #TRPScam. The statement suggests that, Bennett Coleman & Company (BCCL), which is a subscriber of viewership data from Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC), for its channels including Times Now, suspected manipulation of viewership data since 2017, specially after the launch of Republic TV in May that year.
The statement added that Times Network, found significant abnormalities in market wise ratings of Republic TV and complained repeatedly to BARC for close to two years and got stock replies return.
Now, after Mumbai Police's press conference on 25 December 2020, which revealed that there was proof that BARC had manipulated data for the benefit of Republic TV, Times Network wants to press legal charges against the televisionr rating measurement service.
The statement added, "As per BARC’s forensic audit of July 2020, as well as the multiple email 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, with the intention to give undue advantage to Republic TV in the English news genre and thereby fraudulently declare Republic TV as number one, even when Times Now was consistently higher by a large margin and was the undisputed leader of the genre."
Financial distress for the network
The misreported numbers by BARC hurt Times Now financially according to the statement.
The statement further revealed, "The 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. 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 an 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 ₹ 30,000 crores per annum and impacts the livelihoods of thousands of employees engaged in the broadcast sector."
Times Network added that even after the #TRPScam broke out, it hasn't received an explanation from BARC which is making it contemplate legal action. The network is also intending to initiate appropriate proceedings against the individual perpetrators of the fraud as per provisions of Criminal and Civil laws.
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