Mumbai police have claimed WhatsApp conversations between senior anchor Arnab Goswami and head of rating company Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) Pratho Dasgupta reveal that both had a cozy relationship.
According to an Indian publication The Hindu, police mentioned the relationship in a charge sheet filed during a probe into a TRP tampering scandal involving Goswami’s Republic TV and other channels.
According to the Indian publication, the transcript of the WhatsApp messages intercepted via Mr. Dasgupta’s phone that runs into more than 1,000 pages, shows many instances of him asking Mr. Goswami to reach out to the government on his behalf.
In April 2019 before the general elections, Goswami was asked by Dasgupta to stall the Telecom Regulatory Authority (TRAI)’s proposal to make the BARC’s viewing data public instead of just supplying it to the channels. Mr. Dasgupta tells Mr. Goswami that if the data is made public, many channels could be blacked out by Multi System Operators (MSOs) and Local Cable Operators (LCOs).
“With public data, MSOs and LCOs will push you guys for more carriage,” Mr. Dasgupta tells Mr. Goswami.
According to the Publication, Goswami had assured him that the TRAI would not have teeth when the BJP government returns. He also asked Mr. Dasgupta to send him points on how these reforms could politically hurt the government.
“With channels getting blacked out, the impact of messaging on TV will reach lesser people and hence diluted impact,” Mr. Dasgupta replied as per the transcript. Mr. Dasgupta further added,
“Can you help by telling AS to tell TRAI to pipe down on BARC?”.
Two days later, Mr. Goswami responds that “a strong message has been conveyed to TRAI.”
Dasgupta has earlier sought help from Goswami against TRAI.
According to the publication, Mr. Dasgupta also at many places has complained about being under pressure from “vested interests”. He also says he is under pressure from various channels on viewership data. At one point he even asks Mr. Goswami to get him a job as “media advisor” in the Prime Minister’s Office.