TRP scam: Times Now sends legal notice to BARC, demands Rs 431 crore in damages

The notice alleges that BARC 'deliberately reduced' Times Now's viewership numbers.

ByNL Team
TRP scam: Times Now sends legal notice to BARC, demands Rs 431 crore in damages
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On February 11, Bennet Coleman & Company Ltd, which owns the news channel Times Now, sent a legal notice to the Broadcast Audience Research Council over the latter's "illegal and fraudulent viewership data manipulation and tampering of Television Ratings Points". The notice alleged that the channel's viewership numbers were "deliberately, and in a concerted manner, reduced" to favour another channel.

The notice was sent to BARC, its officials, and members of its management and board. It asked for, among other things, a cumulative sum of damages of Rs 431 crore plus license fees of Rs 21.83 crore, and a press statement to clarify that Times Now was the "number one channel".

The notice, a copy of which was accessed by Newslaundry, referenced the press conference held by the Mumbai police in December, where the police alleged that TRPs were "manipulated, rigged, tampered and at times pre-decided by the erstwhile upper echelon of BARC". It noted that Times Now's ranking in 2017 had been "suspiciously reduced", as per the police, "with a view to make another newly launched English news channel as the number one channel".

The notice cited the findings of a forensic report and stated that "raw data for TRP in the news genre was being manipulated in various ways in order to favor particular channels, to, inter alia, fraudulently and dishonestly show the beneficiary channel as the first ranking channel in the country, despite it not being so..."

Newslaundry had reported on the forensic audit, which was submitted to BARC last July. It revealed a litany of unscrupulous practices followed by top former executives of BARC. Times Now's notice alleged that BARC "kept this matter suppressed deliberately, intentionally" and took "no decisive action".

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