Arnab Goswami’s prime time show on Thursday night was like it was never before. The fiery owner of Republic TV delivered a monologue (not that he allows others to speak otherwise) with no one in attendance at the Republic TV studio even as he claimed “global support” for him in the wake of a TRP scam unearthed by Mumbai Police.
The Mumbai police have also named Arnab Goswami’s Republic TV channel in the Television Rating Points (TRP) scam. Four people have been arrested so far.
Arnab started by launching a virulent attack on Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh, after the latter announced at a press conference Thursday that Republic and two other channels were allegedly involved in a TRP fixing scam.
An angry Arnab attacked news channels, Sonia Gandhi, Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and Mumbai Police.
The fiery news anchor in him briefly gave way to the poet within as Arnab recited a few lines in Hindi for the police chief and the Mumbai CM that loosely translates to — “I haven’t learnt defeat, I don’t know how to stop, We are born to sacrifice ourselves for the truth… I am the son of an Army man…”
Police custody for four accused
All the four arrested on Thursday for manipulating TV viewership ratings have been sent to the police custody till October 13. Two of the accused are owners of Fakt Marathi and Box Cinema TV channels.
TRPs are used to measure viewership for programmes on channels, and help advertisers decide where to advertise. The complaint against Republic TV and the two other channels was lodged by an independent agency named Hansa.
The Mumbai Police said the accused would bribe people in confidential set of households, on the basis of which TRP is calculated, and ask them to keep their channels switched on even when they weren’t watching. Republic TV has flayed the charge and termed the police’s claim as “rubblish”.
The four people arrested in the TRP scam case are Vishal Bhandari, Bompalli Rao, Narayan Sharma (owner of Box Cinema) and Shirish Shetty (Fakt Marathi owner).
When a TV reporter chased Arnab for a byte…
The social media is talking about a video that shows Republic Media’s editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami being chased by journalists as he drives out of his home on Friday. The reporters are seen mobbing Arnab’s vehicle in a style very common with Republic TV journalists.
Ye kya chal raha hai dihar 😂 pic.twitter.com/2GwZT89NX0
— Ãzy 🏹 (@AzyConTrolI) October 8, 2020
Meanwhile, news channels Republic and India Today have levelled counter-accusations against each other. In response to the allegations leveled by Mumbai Police chief Param Bir Singh, Arnab said that it was India Today, and not Republic TV that was named in the FIR filed in the case.
To this, India Today TV responded with an interview with Param Bir Singh, who stated that investigations had not revealed any connection between the alleged scam and India Today TV.
Man who was bribed says he was paid to watch Box Cinema
NDTV reported that a man whose home had a “people meter” to check viewership has revealed that he had received monthly payments to watch certain channels.
The man is one of the three witnesses that the police say were bribed by the channels. The man said he was told that the meter installed at his home would take care of his bills and automatically recharge his DTH platform.
“The executive from Bar-o-meter told me to watch Box Cinema (one of the three channels under investigation). He said I should watch the channel from 2 pm to 4 pm and I would be paid INR 500,” the viewer told NDTV. He said he did it for two to three years and never realized that it could be linked to fudging TRPs or Television Rating Points.
I&B minister Prakash Javadekar reacts
I&B minister Prakash Javadekar told Times Now channel that the government will look into the matter and take necessary action if the allegations prove to be true. A day before, Javadekar had tweeted saying “media should not be TRP driven”.
What other news channels had to say about the TRP scam
Rival news channels lapped up the opportunity to take on Arnab Goswami and his news channels.
Arnab’s former colleague at Times Now, Rahul Shivshankar, said “…it pains me…because the accused was a colleague…’’ but added that, if true, this was a “massive scandal” that involved the loss of revenue and jobs at news channels.
Times Now reporter Nikunj Garg was less kind: “…let’s not confuse him with a journalist, he is a businessman’’. At 9 pm, anchor Navika Kumar, another former colleague of Goswami, insisted that the TRP scam must be debated.
What have the accused revealed about the TRP scam? Which all angles will the the police investigate? Milind Bharabe, joint commissioner of police speaks to @rahulkanwal. #5iveLive #TRPScam pic.twitter.com/4Y4vLonIot
— IndiaToday (@IndiaToday) October 9, 2020
At India Today, anchor Rahul Kanwal interviewed Param Bir Singh as did almost all other news channels, including NDTV 24×7, CNN News 18. However, he said India Today channel would not pronounce judgment on the alleged scam: “(This) is a newsroom, not a courtroom..’’
When academic Madhu Kishwar harked back to previous scams like “NDTV’s hawala scam” and accused India Today of being a “kangaroo court” for pointing fingers at Goswami “within minutes” of the Mumbai Police’s press conference, Kanwal quickly responded, “…this would be a kangaroo court if we had already decided that Arnab Goswami was guilty — as he often does on his television shows — and be hanged in a public town square — as he often does on his television shows — or to be whipped and caned — as he often does on his television shows. We’re not saying that.”
For a change, news channels are fighting among themselves and not making Hindu-Muslim fight.
— Banglar Gorbo Mamata (@BengalBachao) October 9, 2020
Aaj Tak’s Anjana Om Kashyap was biting in her criticism, calling Republic TV “TRP Chor”.
Zee News’ Sudhir Chaudhary called it a “threat to democracy” while NDTV India’s elder statesman Ravish Kumar compared news channels with a ‘madaari’ (street performer with a monkey).
— Zee News English (@ZeeNewsEnglish) October 9, 2020
NDTV 24×7 anchor Sreenivasan Jain boasted about how they had been flagging the issue of faulty ratings for many years.
CNN-News18 displayed huge runners with ‘REPUBLIC CHEATED INDIA’. Anchor Zakka Jacob called the alleged TRP racket and scandal one of the “worst kept secrets in this industry”.
ABP News’ Rubika Liyaquat took the high road: “For the first time in the history of Indian television, such a huge betrayal has taken place, the people of Hindustan have been betrayed but good news is Mumbai Police has busted the TRP scandal very quickly,” she said.