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TRP scam: Times Now alleges connivance between Arnab Goswami and ED over chargesheet

After accessing the chargesheet, Republic and Times Now went on air with accusations and counter-accusations. Times Now has asked why ED didn't mention the clean chit given by BARC in its chargesheet in relation to the alleged videos of tampering of the homes in which panels were installed

(Left to Right) Navika Kumar, Rahul Shivshankar, MK Anand, Nikunj Garg

The chargesheet filed by Enforcement Directorate (ED) in the TRP scam has made it a Republic TV vs Times Now battle.

After accessing a copy of the charge sheet, Republic’s owner-cum-Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami sat in his studio non-stop for hours giving out the details of the charge sheet exonerating him and his channel from the TRP scam.

Goswami continued to call the ED charge sheet the “Final TRP Report” from day 1 and also uploaded it on his website on Thursday evening. 

Besides claiming a clean chit by the ED in the TRP scam, Goswami also took a pot-shot on Times Now for ED taking the name of his rival channel at multiple places in a matter related to alleged videos of bribing the three households. 

According to Goswami, ED has not been able to get the videos from BARC India and further investigation in this matter was sought in the charge sheet.

NewsDrum on September 22 reported that calling the charge sheet the ‘Final TRP Report’ was an overzealous act and mere hyperbole as it can be contested in the courts.

Even before weighing the legal options, the management of Times Now, including Times Network MD and CEO MK Anand and Mirror Now chief editor Nikunj Garg, contested and challenged the ED charge sheet on their channel between 5-6 pm.

Shivshankar and Garg called the ED chargesheet tenuous as the channel presented the ‘Real TRP Facts’ to expose the malicious propaganda run by Goswami.

In response to ED's raw data analysis alleging an abnormal increase in the average time spent on Times Now compared to other English news channels, the channel contested the findings of the ED saying that the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) had earlier decided not to initiate any action against it and given a clean chit.

"We are in receipt of the captioned letter. Nothing stated in the letter should be deemed to have been admitted by BARC, for want of specific transverse/denial," the BARC clean chit read.

"Without prejudice to the above, we have taken note of the contents of the letter dated Dec 13, 2017. In view of the explanation provided by you in the captioned interim reply, reply and the letter dated Dec 13, 2017, as well as the clarification provided by your representatives in respect of the abnormal increase in the viewership and raw data of the channel during the course of the meetings conducted Nov 28, 2017, and Dec 6, 2017, we have decided to not initiate any action against you, under the Show Cause Notice."

Times Now said the videos that were circulated were tampered and made by their competitors with an intent to blackmail and trap the channel. Since none of the videos was found to be genuine or authentic, the investigation against Times Now was closed.

While the ED chargesheet has mentioned BARC’s letter dated December 13, 2017, it conveniently omitted the content of the letter, which according to Times Now was a clean chit.

“When the ED was aware of the BARC clean chit to Times Now, why didn't it mention it in its charge sheet?” asked Times now.

Replying to Goswami in his own style, Times Now asked, “Is the channel maligning afraid to show BARC clean chit to the public?”

Times Now said that Republic TV is deliberately and selectively cherry-picking quotes from the ED report to malign Times Now and deflect attention from itself.

“Why has the channel that selectively highlights facts not conducted due diligence to ascertain what action BARC took? Why would the then CEO of BARC, known to be close to the proprietor of Republic TV, give Times Now a clean chit?” the channel asked.

Times Now also asked why didn't BARC take up its offer to pay for the services of a specialist to investigate the videos.

Challenging the narrative around the alleged videos, Times Now asked, “Had BARC not been convinced by our response, they would have investigated the videos. Why didn’t they do it? If videos were definitive proof of malfeasance, why didn't BARC punish Times Now? Why didn't BARC register a case against appropriate authorities as suggested by Times Now?”

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