Political vendetta behind the Mumbai police action against Republic TV?

Arnab Goswami - Parambir Singh

When the Commissioner of Police, Mumbai, Param Bir Singh on Thursday, came out with the “revelation” of a ‘false television rating points (TRP) racket’, where media channels have been found manipulating TRP numbers and Republic TV is among them, a large section of people didn’t buy the story. The Mumbai top cop claimed to have busted a racket that involved private television channels manipulating their TRPs. Republic TV and two other local Mumbai channels have been found guilty of manipulating the crucial data.

According to the Mumbai police, households were paid a monthly fee to keep channels switched on the entire day to boost television ratings. Three channels, including Arnab Goswami’s Republic TV are being investigated for ratings or TRP manipulation, Mumbai Police Commissioner Singh said during a press conference. The owners of Marathi channels Fakt Marathi and Box Cinema have been arrested, under Section 409 (criminal breach of trust) and Section 420 (Cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property) of the Indian Penal Code. The TRP contracts were given to a company named Hansa, the police said.

During the investigation, the police found some ex-employees of Hansa Company, who were working with rating agency Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC), were sharing TRP data with some channels, the city police chief said. The BARC, which measures TRPs, has installed over 2,000 barometers in Mumbai for measuring the data. The locations where these barometers are installed are strictly confidential.

Now the basic question is that whether anyone had lodged a complaint with the police about the manipulation of TRP? Why Mumbai police made such suo-moto investigation? And hence the investigation seems to be targeted only towards one end that is Republic TV which has been attacking the ruling coalition government and particularly its principal partner Shiv Sena and the Mumbai police for the last few months.

The promoter of Republic TV and anchor Arnab Goswami already said that he will take legal action against Mumbai police commissioner Singh who named his Republic TV among three channels for rigging TRP. Threatening criminal defamation, Goswami also issued a statement saying, “Mumbai Police commissioner Param Bir Singh has made false allegations against Republic TV because we have questioned him in the Sushant Singh Rajput case investigation. Republic TV will file a criminal defamation case against Mumbai police commissioner Param Bir Singh. “There is not a single BARC report that mentions Republic TV. The people of India know the truth. Mr Param Bir Singh’s investigation in the Sushant Singh Rajput case is under a cloud and this is a desperate measure because of Republic TV’s reportage on Palghar, the Sushant Singh Rajput case or any other case. This kind of targeting only strengthens the resolve of everyone at Republic TV to push for the truth even harder.”

Attacking the Mumbai police, Arnab said, “Param Bir Singh stands completely exposed today since BARC has not mentioned Republic in any single complaint. He should issue an official apology and get ready to face us in court.”

The way Mumbai police hurriedly held a press conference and “revealed” the “TRP scam,” it appeared a conspiracy theory to teach Arnab and his channel Republic TV a lesson for attacking the ruling coalition government in Maharashtra.

Earlier too, lot of FIRs were registered against Goswami in various states after his programme on the Palghar mob lynching incident and his statement against the Congress chief Sonia Gandhi. During the period Goswami’s 12-hour long interrogation by the Mumbai police was nothing short of “arm twisting tactic.”

If really anyone tampers the TRP, it is the duty of BARC, the regulatory authority, to take an action against the concerned channel, and not the police. If any channel violates the rules and norms of the BARC, it’s purely the duty of agency to take disciplinary action against it. Why the Mumbai police indulged in the matter as it has no role in the matter. There are lot of people disagree with style of functioning of Arnab, but the Thursday police action against him was purely politically motivated and Mumbai police should desist itself from such tactics !

 – M Charulata