TRP manipulation: NBA asks BARC to suspend ratings of Republic TV till final court order

In a statement issued on Monday, NBA has said that the manipulation of ratings by Republic TV has “immensely damaged” the “reputation” of the broadcast industry and therefore it should be kept out of BARC rating system till final court order.

MUMBAI: The News Broadcasters Association (NBA) has asked the viewership measurement agency BARC India to suspend TV ratings of Arnab Goswami-owned Republic TV, which has been named in the alleged TRP manipulation case by the Mumbai police.

In a statement issued on Monday, NBA has said that the manipulation of ratings by Republic TV has “immensely damaged” the “reputation” of the broadcast industry and therefore it should be kept out of BARC rating system till final court order.

The statement came a few days after the Mumbai police filed a 3,600-page supplementary chargesheet in the case, where it has submitted WhatsApp and iMessage chats and email exchanges between former BARC CEO Partho Dasgupta and Republic TV editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami and other former and current executives.


The NBA has also called for suspension of the Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF) membership of Republic TV with immediate effect.

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NBA said it is “shocked” to see hundreds of WhatsApp messages that have been exchanged between Dasgupta and Goswami.

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“These messages clearly establish collusion between the two in manipulating ratings to garner greater viewership numbers for Republic TV month after month by fraudulently manually reducing ratings of other channels to give Republic TV an unfair advantage. These WhatsApp messages not only reflect manipulation of ratings but is also about power play. The messages exchanged go on to refer to the appointment of Secretaries, Cabinet reshuffle, access to the PMO and the workings of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. This only confirms the many and continuous allegations made by NBA in the last 4 years that ratings were being manipulated by a non-NBA member broadcaster in connivance with BARC’s top management officials,” NBA said in the statement.

NBA further added that it has already conveyed to BARC that ratings are unreliable and should continue to be suspended in light of the recent revelations which shows the arbitrary nature of functioning at BARC.

“It shows that there are no checks and balances and the ability of a few within BARC to easily change the ratings as they deemed fit, making the system subjective to the whims and fancy of the management versus being an objective transparent system,” the statement read.

NBA has also put forward six demands in front of BARC - to make a clear statement about the “veracity of its ratings” in the period during the audit and also conduct an audit of the Hindi news genre; expunge the data of the erring broadcaster and restate the real position of rankings of all news channels from the beginning; explain the concrete steps that have been taken by BARC in the last three months to secure the ratings; bring transparency to the process and create a system whereby any changes to the ratings that impacts the news ecosystem is done only after due consultation with a BARC Sub Committee of NBA nominees; explain what penal actions are provided for in the BARC constitution against broadcasters who have indulged in manipulation of ratings of this magnitude and what action will be taken in the current case; and suspend ratings of news channels till such time all details of such actions taken by BARC are shared with the stakeholders.

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In its strongly worded statement, NBA has called BARC’s Oversight Committee an eye wash to show autonomy as it doesn’t have any representation of broadcasters and just consultants paid by BARC.

“NBA strongly demands that action should be taken by BARC against these dubious actors, legal and police action should also be taken against those who are responsible for ruining the credibility of BARC and threaten to damage the credibility of the news broadcast business have hitherto gone about their business without any consequences or fear thereof,” the statement said.

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NBA has also pulled up BARC for sitting on the forensic report for several months, in spite of having a damning verdict in its possession since July 2020.

Calling it a glaring example of the “systemic lack of transparency” that has prevailed right since the inception of BARC, NBA said that not only did BARC not share the data with NBA on grounds of confidentiality, no action was taken against the erring broadcaster, no penalty and no Discom (disciplinary committee) proceedings were initiated. In fact, even after the new management took charge, wide scale manipulation has continued,” the statement read.
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