TRP case: Transcripts contain proof of my innocence, says Ex-Barc CEO Dasgupta
Former Broadcast Audience Research Council CEO Partho Dasgupta on Tuesday refuted the allegations of the Maharashtra government that he was the mastermind of a purported TRP manipulations racket and told the Bombay high court that not granting him bail would be a “travesty of justice”.
Dasgupta’s counsel, Aabad Ponda, informed the single bench of justice PD Naik that his WhatsApp chats with Republic TV managing director and senior journalist Arnab Goswami — wherein he refused to compromise on the outlier policy — was proof of his innocence.
The Mumbai police on Monday told the Bombay HC that Dasgupta rigged the “entire” TRP (television ratings point) system for news channels. Opposing Dasgupta’s bail plea, special public prosecutor Shishir Hiray said the Mumbai police accessed, among other things, Dasgupta’s WhatsApp chats with a “certain owner and anchor of a TV channel” where in he discussed manipulating the TRPs.
The purported chats between Dasgupta and Goswami, who is also an accused in the TRP manipulations case, are a part of the charge sheet filed by the police in the case. The contents of the chat have since been leaked publicly. The Opposition seized on purported messages discussing the 2019 Pulwama attack that it said pointed to possible national security violations.
Ponda refuted allegations that Dasgupta accepted gifts in the form of jewellery from Goswami. The charge sheet has noted that silver jewellery and expensive watches were found from Dasgupta’s house and that they were given by Goswami as bribe to rig the ratings.
Responding to statements of a BARC employee that Dasgupta did not act on her complaints about a sudden spike in the ratings of some news channels, Ponda said the complaint was pertaining to Romil Ramgarhia, (COO of BARC), and Dasgupta’s failure to take action at the most could be considered negligence and not a crime. Ponda submitted that there was no grievance on the part of the advertisers, who may have been induced to pay more to channels whose ratings were allegedly rigged, and hence he should be granted bail.