Partho Dasgupta, former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) India, was arrested and sent to police custody till December 28 by the Mumbai Police Crime Branch on Thursday, in connection with the Television Rating Points (TRP) rigging case.
Dasgupta was arrested from Rajgad police station in Pune district, reported Mumbai Mirror. This marks the 15th such arrest related to the TRP scam.
The TRP racket was first uncovered by Mumbai Police Commissioner Parambir Singh during an investigation in October. Three media houses, namely, Republic TV, Box Cinema, and Fakt Marathi, were found to have rigged the meters (devices used to check and evaluate the viewership of a news channel) of a number of users. According to the police, the users who had installed the rigged meters were bribed on a monthly basis, so that they would run those channels.
According to a Bar and Bench report, the Mumbai Police said that Republic TV had spent Rs 15 lakh per month to increase their TRP, thereby ensuring that they got maximum viewership. This rigging of viewership was carried out to bring in more investments in the form of advertisements for these news channels, said the police.
Earlier, Romil Ramgarhia, former Chief Operating Officer (COO) of BARC, the 14th accused in the TRP rigging case, was arrested on December 18 for allegedly tampering with the data of the barometers installed at select houses, to determine the TRPs of the channels. He was subsequently released on December 24. Ramgarhia, who quit BARC India in July, was the first person associated with the BARC to be arrested in the case.
On December 18, a Mumbai court granted bail to Republic TV CEO, Vikas Khanchandani, who was the 13th accused in the case, on a bail bond of Rs. 50,000. Other Republic TV employees like Ghanshyam Singh were also arrested earlier.
In October, the Mumbai Police had arrested Shirish Pattanshetty, the co-promoter of Fakt Marathi, and Narayan Sharma, the founder of Box Cinema. The two were granted bail later that month. The weekly ratings of all the news channels have been suspended by BARC since October.