Report on Shemaroo

Republic Media Network alleges collusion between Times Network & Congress

Republic Media Network claims that there is no shred of evidence in the purported WhatsApp chats.

New Delhi:  The TRP scam that was unearthed by Mumbai Police on 8 October 2020 has brought the industry to a new low. Multiple broadcast networks have been attacking each other while the former leaders of the rating agencies have come under the scanner of investigation agencies.

Last week, Times Network in a press statement mentioned that its reputation and revenues are getting affected from TRP scam and it is contemplating legal action against individual perpetrators of the scam. It was clear that the network pointed at the rating agencies – BARC and the broadcast news network – Republic Media.

The intent immediately elicited a multipoint response from Arnab Goswami owned Republic Media. In a statement issued to the press, the network said, “There has been collusion of corporate and political interests to target Arnab Goswami, the editor-in-chief of the Republic Media Network. This collusion, which is a result of commercial, political and personal interests is aimed, quite obviously, at illegally trying to create prejudice against the Republic Media Network. While Goswami and the Republic Media Network are absolutely sure that the evil designs and deep conspiracy between the Congress party, sections of the media and the Pakistan government will be exposed thoroughly, we will not allow, at any cost, the achievements and truth about Arnab Goswami-- India’s most successful self-made news media entrepreneur-- to be targeted by individuals who are colluding against him.”

Republic Media Network further presented several facts in their press statement: -

1. The Purported WhatsApp Chats: The validity, veracity and genuineness is still to be tested in the court of law. But even keeping that aside for a moment, there is not one line, which contains any wrongdoing or TRP manipulation by the Republic Media Network. The ridiculous claims of bribes being paid are not supported by even a single sentence in these chats. Hence, it proves the Mumbai Police and its partners in the media are completely wrong. 

2. Statements maliciously attributed to Arnavb Goswami: Statements made by others are being attributed to Goswami. So far, Goswami has not started the process of filing criminal cases against these “journalists”, who at the behest of their political and corporate masters, are attributing statements made by others to Goswami. Legally, no outrageous suggestion/request/statement made by a third party can be attributed to Goswami. The purported chats, in fact, show that Goswami ignores all inappropriate requests. TimesNow has led a group of media that has tried to attribute statements by a third party to Goswami. The Republic Media Network believes there is a commercial conspiracy behind this and intends to take the strongest legal action against these “journalists”, who will be made responsible for every word and every falsehood they have uttered. 

3. Times Now’s attempts to manipulate data: In these chats, Goswami is complaining about the TRP manipulation by other news channels, especially Times Now, and the misuse of landing pages by the latter. There are innumerable references to such complaints about the misuse of landing pages and subsequent manipulation by Times Now, and such manipulation by other channels. One such example is as follows: Please note Goswami, allegedly on 6 July 2017, in the purported chats, is stated to have apparently said “just bringing to your attention Gujarat 10-75 lac market growth in time spent from 2 min to 18 min and impressions up by 763 per cent for Times Now seems suspicious”. The fact that therefore emerges is that Republic was a victim of TRP manipulation by other channels in the genre, who in order to conceal these facts are not focussing on this aspect.

4. Times Now’s landing pages: The smoking gun against Times Now is, in fact, in the forensic report of BARC which is included in the Mumbai Police chargesheet, which completely exposes the fact that Times Now was using landing pages to artificially spike its ratings, which was caught by the algorithmic, computerised process, as per the outlier policy of BARC. It shows that the reduction in Times Now’s numbers was a result of the implementation of the Outlier Policy by BARC and not as a result of any TRP manipulation. Please note the explicit use of the words, “Raw Data Before Outlier Cleaning”.

A simple reading, therefore, proves that while Republic’s ratings were also impacted by the implementation of the Outlier Policy and our numbers were also brought down, Times Now’s numbers fell by a greater margin because their rampant use of landing pages was caught by the computerised algorithmic system of BARC which was launched way back in 2015 even before Republic TV was launched. It is outrageous that without doing basic research and by selectively relying on certain pages in this chargesheet and uttering falsities, a section of the media led by Times Now and the Congress party has fed this lie that has been lapped up by the media inimical to the Republic Media Network. Now that this information is with everyone, we want to make it clear that we will take the strongest possible legal action against any individual or party who has uttered a single falsehood against us. 

5. Suppression of facts: Times Now is suppressing the fact that the implementation of the Outlier Policy is not a Republic Media Network creation. The algorithmic implementation of the Outlier Policy came in the way of Times Now’s rampant use of landing pages to shroud the reality that the channel was desperate to counter Goswami’s popularity by paying large amounts of money across India through landing pages. The Republic Media Network now demands: 

a. That Times Now should publicly declare how much money they spent in the years 2017, 2018, 2019 and  2020 on landing pages?

b. That Times Now must publicly state whether these landing pages were caught by the Outlier Policy of BARC? 

c. Whether it is true or not that BARC itself appointed a two member oversight committee which concluded in October 2019 as follows: “The committee stated that the current process is accurate and unbiased and recommended BARC India to continue to follow the process as it is. According to the committee, there is no manual intervention in the process for treating outliers. The entire process is driven by robust algorithms and rules which makes the process unbiased. This is applied to all channels in a fair manner which in return helps BARC India give transparent and reliable data to its subscribers. Over the last four years this process has been enhanced and made more robust. New learnings and increased automation has been incorporated with every change. The committee is also working closely with BARC India to further automate the identification and treatment of landing page.”

6. Deliberate concealment: Times Now claims to have access to the BARC forensic report. The people of India must ask Times Now to publicly answer the following question: Does Times Now claim that it is unaware that the BARC forensic report makes references to certain GECs in the context of TRP manipulation? It is shocking that Times Now, despite having this information is concealing it and is refusing to refer to it even once. This makes it evident that Times Now is guilty of joining hands with interested parties, breaking the basic ground rules of fair journalism and using its platform to conceal the real facts of the BARC Forensic Report in order to target the Republic Media Network, whose popularity it has not, is not, and will never be able to match. 

7. The Biggest smoking gun: Times Now conceals that a top Hindi news channel has been found totally guilty of “pre-fixing” the ratings and working with certain BARC officials to manipulate its way to the number one position to deliberately mislead the public and retain focus on its unfounded allegations against Republic TV. Since Times Now is concealing this fact, let us elaborate the words used by the BARC forensic report in the context of this Hindi news channel which is at the fulcrum of the TRP matter. This Hindi news channel group has also been found guilty by BARC itself, has been fined by BARC, and has been named in a Mumbai Police FIR that the Maharashtra government is trying to put under wraps. The people of India should note that these are the words used in the report about the channel as used in the BARC Forensic Report: “external officials of channels hinting about pre-fixing the channel ratings during our analysis.” 

Therefore, why is Times Now not questioning this Hindi news channel which has been found guilty in the forensic report of pre-fixing ratings to illegally get the number one position with BARC officials? This is the biggest revelation in the TRP matter, and cannot be suppressed now that sections of the report have come into the public domain. Times Now cannot act as part of a cartel to protect the commercial interests of this particular Hindi news channel which is at the heart of the TRP matter.

8. Lutyens industry cartel: Interestingly, the Hindi news channel which has been found guilty of conspiring with BARC officials to prefix ratings, is part of a Lutyens industry cartel along with Times Now. Times Now is therefore guilty of deliberately not referring to specific provisions of the chargesheet  -- strongly indicating manual manipulation and pre-fixing of ratings with respect to a member of the same cartel. This proves the falsehoods, fabrication and distortions by a certain section of the media is a blatant attempt to target the Republic Media network. Even if Times Now gets the support of the government of Pakistan and the Congress party, it must introspect on the consequences as the truth begins to come out-- like a torrent, as it will.

9. Mumbai Police’s malice stands exposed to all: Conveniently, these aspects and major players implicated in various reports, have not also been investigated by the Mumbai Police, which it is now obvious to all, bears ill will and malice against us. But concurrently, there are other investigating agencies still conducting a probe – the Enforcement Directorate, the CBI, in matters relating to the TRP Manipulation case. Mumbai Police, without any shred of evidence, had already declared us guilty in the controversial press conference on 8 October 2020, even though at that stage we had not even been named in the FIR. They have gone on a path of fabricating material against us thereafter. The trial has not even begun, in fact, the investigation is still going on but there is a concerted attempt, by falsehoods, concealments and distortions, to engineer public opinion against us, obviously to prejudice all and sundry against us. 

10. Litany of falsehoods: The case is at the level of quashing the chargesheet and yet a litany of falsehoods are being carried out against us-- which is being done in an attempt at prejudicing the public’s mind, which is itself a crime. There are agencies which are investigating the matter. In fact, the Hindi news channel which has been found guilty in the BARC Forensic Report, has had its top officials being called by Enforcement Directorate for interrogation -- a matter completely not reported by Times Now. It is therefore clear that Times Now has only acted with malice, in breach of journalistic ethics and in contravention to all due expectations from a media house, with the sole motive to prejudice the minds of Republic TV's viewers and the public at large, to settle a personal score, commercial gain and vengeance. 

11. Republic calls upon Competition Commission of India: We call upon the Competition Commission of India to probe the existence of collusion and cartelization in the media industry which is selectively targeting Republic TV and Goswami. The need of the hour is a thorough probe into the blatantly and brazenly anti-competitive behaviour by a certain section of the media. 

12. On Balakot Air Strike: The Congress Party, which cannot get over its own infighting, has peddled lies and falsehoods against us, accusing us of leaking official secrets, when the truth is that the possibility of air strikes was a much-discussed topic in the public domain, much before the strikes actually took place. Times Now does not disclose that the Times Group had itself published articles on the possibility of strikes post Pulwama, and now that Republic TV has pointed out their hypocrisy, they have taken down those articles from the internet, so as to make them unavailable for general public viewing. Therefore, it becomes evident that all attempts are being, by a conjunction of interests, to mislead the public, conceal the truth and perpetuate falsehoods.

13. Open collusion between Congress and Times Now: There is open collusion between Times Now and the Congress Party, and others in the media industry, goaded on by the personal animosity these people have against Goswami, for his courageous but uncomfortable stands on matters of public importance. We urge our colleagues in the media and our viewers – don’t be misled by a select cabal – read the actual material, and don’t believe hogwash being floated against us.

14. No evidence against Republic: It has become abundantly clear that because the nexus found nothing in the TRP case, it concocted falsehoods about official secrets being leaked about the Balakot airstrikes, a matter which was widely discussed and deliberated upon in the public domain, including in articles in the publications of the Times Now Group. Republic Media Network is grateful for the immense public support which it has been getting. 

The media which has been spreading lies about the Republic Media Network must answer the following before the nation: 

a. Which Hindi news channel was found guilty as per the BARC Forensic Report?
b. Why is the media not reporting on all aspects dealt with in the Forensic Report? 
c. Is it true that the chargesheet itself exposes the rampant landing pages by Times Now? 
d. Is it true or not that there are several complaints from the Republic Media Network to BARC about manipulation by Times Now?

Therefore, it is clear that Times Now is angry that their use of landing pages and other inappropriate action was exposed to both BARC and to the nation by the Republic Media Network. Times Now should ask itself how far will it go to conceal facts, misreport realities, breach journalistic ethics, and perpetuate falsehoods. 
We will not leave any stone unturned to take strong legal action against individuals, entities, political parties and news media publications and channels for spreading falsehoods against us. The campaign of calumny against Republic will be bludgeoned by the force of the truth -- in both the courts of public opinion and the courts of law. 

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