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BARC in the eye of the storm, again

The operations of the Broadcast Audience Research Council of India (BARC) have been under intense scrutiny ever since the TRP scam exploded last year. In a latest development, it is learnt that a “whistle-blower” has sent an email highlighting the various malpractices at the premier television ratings body to all its stakeholders, including IBF, AAAI, NBA, NBF, along with the BARC Board members, BARC’s technical committee and the Government.

Although Adgully is not in possession of the said email, it has learnt from industry sources that the whistle-blower has brought to light several instances of misconduct and mismanagement, including financial mismanagement and TRP manipulation, at BARC and has called for a thorough investigation into these malpractices.

Adgully reached out to several of the stakeholders to whom the said email has been purportedly sent, however, none had responded till the time of filing this report.

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A senior media professional, when approached, said, “It is for the BARC Board and Chairman to decide. This is an anonymous complaint and organisations tend to react in one way. A true whistle-blower is one who names himself and writes to the head of the organisation or a senior person in the organisation with the grievance and not to the whole world at large with the intention to malign the organisation and not seek redress.”

As is known, former BARC CEO Partho Dasgupta and former COO Romil Ramgarhia are among the top BARC executives who have been arrested in the TRP scam case. Dasgupta has got bail in the case.

It may also be recalled that the Enforcement Directorate (ED), which has been investigating into money laundering in the TRP scam, had revealed a link to former Mumbai Police Assistant Inspector Sachin Vaze. According to the findings, officials from ED discovered that Vaze had extorted Rs 30 lakh from BARC for not harassing its executives.

According to the news reports, the Enforcement Directorate’s investigations revealed that BARC paid the bribe via a dummy company and transferred the money to shell companies and used the hawala route to get the money. The bribe money was then credited to the account of a Hawala operator. As per the report, the cash then received was used to pay the bribes.

The News Broadcasters Federation (NBF) had written to BARC following news reports in the media detailing the payment of a bribe by the Council to Vaze, and asked BARC 10 questions to clarify its stand in the entire incident.

This is a developing story and we at Adgully, are keenly following up on developments.


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