Republic TV TRP Scam

TRP is a major factor when it comes to television shows and channels. Whether a show can survive and successfully run for a long time depends on the rate of TRP it can generate for it’s channel. Many successful shows have been sacked due to the decline in it’s viewership ratings. What is TRP? The term refers to ‘Television Rating Point’. It is a metric or a measurement used by TV channels to indicate percentage of target audience reached. The competition on the TRP chart is tough and associated people even go the length of bribing officials and viewers to increase the rating point. And here enters the infamous Republic TV TRP scam. Allegedly, Republic TV and two other local channels of Maharashtra, namely Box Cinema and Fakht Marathi bribed a number of families (mainly from the slums) to keep these channels running all day to boost viewership ratings. The families were paid INR 400 to INR 500 per month to do so.

This scam first made headlines in mid-october when mumbai police revealed the matter and arrested four people allegedly involved in this matter. Vishal Bhandari (21), former employee of Hansa Research, Bamopallirao Mistri (44), who earlier worked in film production houses, proprietor of Fakt Marathi Shirish Shetty (44); and, owner of Box Cinema, Narayan Sharma (47) and booked them for cheating and criminal breach of trust. Republic TV Group CEO Vikas Khanchandani, Republic TV CFO Shiva Sundaram, COO Hersh Bhandari & executive editor Niranjan Narayanswam, Hansa CEO Praveen Nijhar too recorded their statements at the station.

Arnab Goswami, one of the most well known faces of Indian television and editor-in-chief of Republic TV counter-attacked the police department for such baseless investigations but it has been reveled that Goswami too is embroiled in the matters. According to the report submitted by Mumbai police to the court, Goswami has paid lakhs of rupees fo ex BARC (Broadcast Audience Research Council) CEO, Pronob Dasgupta. According to the report, Dasgupta used this money to buy jwellery and other valuables that were seized from his residence prior to arrest last week. The purchases include one Tag Heuer watch worth approximately INR 1 lakh and imitation jewellery and stones worth INR 2.22 lakhs.

“When Dasgupta was the BARC CEO, Arnab Goswami and other accused in the case conspired to illegally increase the TRPs of Republic Bharat Hindi news channel and Republic TV English news channel. In order to do that, Goswami on several occasions paid Dasgupta lakhs of rupees, it has been established in the investigation” according to the statement given by the police seeking remand of Dasgupta at the metropolitan’s magistrate court. Although the remand report mentions several names; the Republic owners in it’s list of the accused but the report doesn’t name Arnab Goswami. It was the first time Goswami’s alleged role was uncovered but was unable for any comment on Monday.

With both Goswami and Republic TV recieving backlash from the public, all three channels have been taken off the TRP charts for three months during the time of ongoing investigation. For television channels, specially news channels, trust from the viewers work as a key component in making the channel as well as the show more successful and steady. Forging TRP numbers for increasing advertising revenues is a major blow to the viewers’ trust and this broken bond cannot be easily mended.

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