Thursday 29 October 2020

BARC email shreds Param Bir Singh’s TRP case lies against Republic TV

The complaint showed that Republic TV was not mentioned even once while the other channel was mentioned over five times

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In the biggest revelation that exposes the lies of the Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh against the Republic Media Network, the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) has confirmed that there was never a case against the network and there was no malpractice or illegality found against it. The concerned BARC email comprehensively establishes that the entire campaign floated against Republic Media Network was based on a lie. 

What is the BARC’s email to Republic?

Republic Media Network’s CEO Vikas Khanchandani wrote an email to BARC on October 16, 2020, requesting it to “confirm in the public domain” that the “BARC and its vigilance team has found no infringement by Republic TV (ARG Outliers Media Pvt. Ltd)”. In response to Vikas Khanchandani’s email, BARC responded on October 17, 2020, by thanking the network for their “faith in the internal mechanisms of BARC” and said that “if there was any disciplinary action initiated against ARG Outlier Media Private Ltd, then BARC India would have communicated the same to you along with necessary documents for your response.” Thus, this e-mail 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.

Param Bir Singh exposed by multiple proofs

The email by BARC shows that the Mumbai Police Commissioner’s entire campaign against Republic Media Network was based on a lie. Param Bir Singh had held a news conference to accuse Republic TV and two Marathi news channels – Fakht Marathi and Box Cinema – of being involved in an alleged TRP scam. He claimed that after an investigation based on a complaint by an agency working with BARC, it has found that money was paid to watch the channel for certain hours in order to increase ratings. However, just six hours later, Republic Media Network accessed the FIR – based on which Police had undertaken said investigation – and exposed that there was not one mention of Republic TV or any affiliate-entity of the Republic Media Network in it; Instead, the FIR named another news channel. 

Republic Media Network accessed the complaint based on which the Mumbai Police had filed the FIR. The complaint showed that Republic TV was not mentioned even once while the other channel was mentioned over five times. Despite all the above proofs, Mumbai Police brazenly took action against the Republic Media Network, sending summons to senior members of the network, including the CEO, COO, a senior member of the Distribution Team, the network’s Executive Editor Niranjan Narayanaswamy as well as Senior Executive Editor Abhishek Kapoor. They were interrogated for a total of over 30 hours and various attempts were made to ascertain Republic’s journalistic sources, in a clear violation of the right to report. However, Republic has stood firm against any and all strongarm tactics to try and access the sources of independent media, and has vowed to fight against any such effort in the courts of law and the courts of public opinion. 

The e-mail by BARC also comes right after a report published by Op India alleged that DCP Nandkumar Thakur, who was a part of the team probing the alleged TRP scam was transferred on 16 October, as he had told reporters in an informal meeting that there was no evidence against Republic TV in the TRP case. Moreover, as per the BARC report accessed by OpIndia earlier, it had fined another channel for breaching ‘the provisions of Section 7 of the EULA and has committed Viewership Malpractice’.

Just on 17 October, Mumbai Police had detained Republic’s Consulting Editor Pradeep Bhandari when he presented himself at the Khar police station to answer summons. This move came inspite of Bhandari being granted anticipatory bail by a Mumbai court and fully cooperating with the Mumbai Police.  A complaint was filed against Bhandari  –  under Articles 188 – (Disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant), 353 (Assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty) of IPC and 37(1), 135 of the Bombay Police Act, while he was reporting on BMC’s demolition of actress Kangana Ranaut’s office.

Earlier, a Supreme Court bench comprising Justices DY Chandrachud, Indu Malhotra and KM Joseph had also observed that they are concerned about the fact that Police Commissioners are giving interviews to the media. Justice DY Chandrachud, in a strong observation, said that the court is concerned that of late, Commissioners have the tendency of giving press interviews on ongoing cases. Republic Media Network had moved the Supreme Court amid a malicious and vindictive attempt by the Mumbai Commissioner of Police to target the channel using the garb of an alleged TRP scam, over which Param Bir Singh had called a news conference. 

Moreover, Republic Media Network’s Editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami was sent a show-cause notice, in violation of Bombay High Court. While the Apex Court in its judgment dated 19 May, 2020, held that no other complaint can be initiated in respect of the Palghar broadcast of 21 April, 2020, the Bombay High Court in its 30 June, 2020, judgment suspended all criminal proceedings with respect to the FIRs registered against Arnab Goswami, based on the Palghar and Bandra news reports. Yet, the show-cause notice was filed.

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