Leaked WhatsApp chats show how breaking every rule was the norm for ex BARC CEO

From persuading Arnab Goswami to release BARC data on Republic's first week to sharing rival channels' data with him, Dasgupta made many exceptions for his former Times Now colleague

e4m by Tasmayee Laha Roy
Published: Jan 19, 2021 9:09 AM  | 4 min read
partho dasgupta

The Republic-BARC link is no longer shrouded in mystery as WhatsApp chats between Arnab Goswami and the former BARC CEO Partho Dasgupta that were submitted to the court in the supplementary charge sheet show a clear bias that Dasgupta had for Republic. The chats also reveal how the data of other channels were suppressed to benefit Goswami.

Excerpts of the 512-page chat history in the charge sheet highlight how Dasgupta bent rules for his former colleague from his Times Now days, Arnab Goswami, during the latter’s channel launch.

To start with, Dasgupta willingly made exceptions for Republic. In his chats from May 2017 clearly mentions to Goswami how he should approach BARC to release channel’s data in the first week of its launch. While he discusses how most channels wait for a couple of weeks before release, he pushes Goswami to go for data release in the first week itself if they were confident on their reach. 

BARC policy on releasing a channel’s viewership data clearly says. “For a channel’s data to be released publicly by BARC India via the BMW software, there is a need for a minimum period of 4 weeks for BARC India to perform the required technical checks and data validation. The 4 week period starts from the end of the week in which the watermark of the channel is live/ activated with BARC India and the IRD box is submitted for playout monitoring, if applicable.”

In a chat dated 5/5/17, he said to Goswami, “You guys need to decide whether BARC releases data publicly for first week. If you have big stories and confident of distribution just go for it.”

This, however, is not the isolated case of exception Dasgupta made for his friend.

On 30/11/16 the former shares an exclusive piece of information with Goswami tagged as ‘For your eyes only’. In this chat, Dasgupta gives away data on Times Now and their show Newshour’s performance to Goswami. BARC data is made public only on Thursdays after 11 am and Dasgupta made an exception for Goswami, giving away details of his competitor on a Wednesday evening.

Alongside a lot of banter around Times Now, the former BARC head’s chats also clearly point out the conscious efforts he took to malign the channel’s reputation.

On 20/1/17 Dasgupta’s message to Goswami read, “Thank me –plugging a story for you- on decline of Newshour.”

The Newshour is a flagship show of primetime debate on Times Now at 9 pm.

The chats also highlight how the duo planned on every action they took in an individual capacity and as key members of representative bodies of the industry.  There are multiple examples in the chat between the two that show Dasgupta discussing complaints that might come to his office on Republic TV.

Not only does he disclose the content of the letter he received as the head of an impartial body but he also discusses his probable response to the complaint with Goswami.

 It turns out that Dasgupta had set a standard for ‘ideal ratings’ internally with his team.

In a chat with former BARC COO Romil Ramgarhia Dasgupta on 3/6/17said to him, “ If Republic is falling, we have to prepare their minds accordingly,”

When Ramgarhia mentions giving a hint of the same to Republic’s CEO Dasgupta said, “Republic a shade higher than Times Now is an ideal result.”

The chat history also includes elaborate discussions on the landing page and Goswami’s initiatives to increase reach.

Impressed by Goswami’s skill of tackling numbers Dasgupta said to him, “You become our consultant and teach channels how to crack BARC.”

Alongside Dasgupta misusing his position the chat records also highlight how Goswami used his influence in the fraternity.

On 7/7/17 when Dasgupta informs Goswami about a complaint in the ministry about Republic the latter confidently said, “About the freedish FTA thing, Rathore told me and said he’s keeping it aside.”

While what ‘keeping aside’ meant and who ‘Rathore’ is remain a mystery, one may assume Rathore refers to the then union minister of state for information and broadcasting, Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore.

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