Arnab Goswami’s WhatsApp conversations with former BARC official reveal conflict of interest and murky proximity to centers of power, in addition to raising questions about journalistic ethics

As part of their investigation into the TRP scam that took place in October 2020, Mumbai Police submitted (as part of an additional indictment) around 1,000 pages of explosive WhatsApp messages between Republic Television Editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami and former CEO of Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) Partho Dasgupta. A document recording the alleged conversations was leaked on social media and went viral.

The discussions document shocking information, which reveals the closeness and access Goswami enjoys to the Centre’s current regime. From “knowledge” of Balakot’s surgical strike three days before it happened, to offering to mediate on Dasgupta’s behalf for affairs with Cabinet ministers, the documents record more than three years of damning conversations between Goswami, Dasgupta and BARC senior executives Romil Ramgarhia and Vikas Khanchandani. There is even a request from Dasgupta asking Goswami to secure him a post as a media adviser to the current government, which Goswami acknowledges and says he will see what he can do. There are several references to “AS”, which is supposed to be a center of power.

The most critical revelation in the chats is the absolute conflict of interest between an editor and a rating agency executive, which goes against the ethics of the news industry. It is not known how the pages entered the public domain. Police sources said the cat was part of an additional 3,400-page indictment filed in the TRP scam on January 11, 2020.

Goswami and the Maha Vikas Aghadi coalition led by Uddhav Thackeray have been at war for some time now. By all accounts, the state is determined to keep the case alive. Goswami was arrested by Maharashtra police in connection with incitement to suicide. He was released after the Supreme Court granted him bail.

Frontline has access to 500 pages of the document, which records the days, timestamps and threads of the conversation, which includes Goswami and Dasgupta speaking about the need to protect BARC, discussing tactics to boost Republic Television, speaking on the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) issues, making malicious comments about people in the TV business, and also about Goswami speaking directly to PMO (Prime Minister’s Office) to “fix the problems “.

An example of a cat goes:

Dasgupta: “Rajat pursues me”

Dasgupta: “You (Goswami) must help me through the PMO. Have aligned Punit ”

Goswami: “It is noted and it will happen.”

Dasgupta: “Read the letter when you can”

Goswami: “Rajat has no entry.

The TRP scam involves, among other things, the rigging of TRP boxes placed in homes that serve as samples to monitor the channels’ audience. In October 2020, a complaint filed by BARC through associated company Hansa Research Group, alleged that Republic Television and two others were paying huge sums of money to people to watch their channels. Thirteen people, including Dasgupta, Ramgarhia and Khanchandani, were arrested in connection with the scam.

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