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India Today was held guilty of viewership malpractice after show-cause notice, was asked to pay Rs 5,00,000 fine to BARC: Exclusive details

Since it was the first offence of India Today, they were left with a warning and their license was not cancelled, however, TV Today Network Limited was made to pay Rs 5,00,000 penalty to BARC.

The TRP ‘scam’ issue took an interesting turn yesterday when, after the Mumbai Police Commissioner alleged that Republic TV was involved in the TRP scam, the FIR which mentioned not Republic TV but India Today surfaced. Thereafter, a conversation between a Republic TV journalist and one of the prime witnesses in the case surfaced where the witness had admitted that her son was asked to watch India Today to illegally increase their TRP.

India Today went on overdrive trying to shield itself after they had made a fool of themselves and gone hammer and tongs against Republic TV and Arnab Goswami following the press conference by Mumbai Police Commissioner Parambir Singh. They lied and twisted the statement of the very witness who had indicted India Today to exonerate themselves and implicate Republic TV. However, their lies were summarily exposed by OpIndia.

Now, our sources have informed us that India Today was asked to pay a fine of Rs 5,00,000 after their explanation did not satisfactorily explain the increase in India Today viewership by the BARC Disciplinary Council.

A show-cause notice was sent to TV Today Network Ltd and BARC regarding viewership malpractice on 27th April 2020, according to our sources. The response by TV Today Network Limited, who is a subscriber of BARC, was not found satisfactory by the BARC Disciplinary Council and the BDC had ruled that the response by India Today “does not satisfactorily explain the buoyancy of India Today channel, in particular, geographies (Mumbai and Bangalore)”.

Further, the BARC Disciplinary Council had ruled that “the statistical data provided by BARC Measurement Science Team showed an abnormal and inexplicable 􏰇􏰉increase in viewership”. Continuing in their order BDC said, “furthermore subscribers reply and/or representations do not provide satisfactorily explain the abnormal increase in the viewership”. Here, subscriber means India Today that had responded to the show-cause notice furnished to them and BARC by BARC Disciplinary Council.

What followed in the order was even more startling.

The order further said:

In view of the above, the Council is satisfied that the Subscriber has breached the provisions of Section 7 of the EULA and has committed Viewership Malpractice as more particularly alleged in the Show Cause Notice as well as the Report submitted by the BARC Vigilance team. Thus, as per clause 14(a) of CCRVM, this being the first offence of the Subscriber, therefore the Council is satisfied that in the present case, a warning be issued to the Subscriber and the Subscriber shall also pay a penalty of Rs. [5],00,000/- (Rupees [Five] Lakhs only) to BARC.

BARC had made their End User License Agreement extremely stringent for channels (subscribers) and any viewership malpractice is dealt with seriously.

According to the order passed, the BARC Disciplinary Council had held that TV Today Limited (India Today) had breached Section 7 of the End User License Agreement and committed viewership malpractice which was alleged in the show-cause notice as well as the report submitted by BARC Vigilence Team.

Since it was the first offence of India Today, they were left with a warning and their license was not cancelled, however, TV Today Network Limited was asked to pay Rs 5,00,000 penalty to BARC.

Interestingly, this order was issued was on the 31st of July, however, the fine of Rs 5,00,000 has not been paid yet by India Today. It is possible that India Today has appealed against the order, however, OpIndia could not confirm that details.

In light of this, it is obvious that India Today would not be oblivious about the fine that they themselves had paid for viewership malpractice and was held guilty of it by the BARC Disciplinary Council of a TRP scam. Knowing fully well that India Today itself was indicted for malpractice, it is inexplicable why India Today went after Republic TV after Mumbai Police was found falsely implicating Arnab Goswami. In fact, even the FIR that was filed, which surfaced later, had mentioned only India Today and had no mention of Republic TV.

It would appear that India Today’s dwindling TRP after Republic TV garnered the lion’s share of viewership has pushed the channel and its journalists like Rahul Kanwal, Rajdeep Sardesai etc to indulge in chicanery without realising that in the age of social media and digital platforms, the wings of lies are clipped rather efficiently.

OpIndia reached out to Rahul Kanwal to seek his comments on the show-cause notice and India Today’s indictment by BARC Disciplinary Council, however, we are yet to receive a response from him. If Mr Kanwal chooses to respond to our query, we will update this article with his response.

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Nupur J Sharma
Editor, OpIndia.com since October 2017

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