On Saturday evening, the largest TV channel owners/ editors’ association – News Broadcasters Association (NBA) urged Government to withdraw CBI’s probe on TRP scam. Why this curious demand to withdraw the case registered by CBI, by the TV channel owners and Editors body NBA? It is simple. No TV channel wants the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to enter into the secret world of sharing of more than Rs.70,000 crores annually and the media barons fear that after CBI, next will be the turn of Income Tax into the huge revenue flow of the TV Channel industry.
Unlike the Mumbai Police’s probe on TRP scam, which is limited only to target Arnab Goswami’s Republic TV, the CBI probe has a wider scope. The Television Rating Points (TRP) scam originated a few weeks ago after the Mumbai Police announced a probe against Republic TV, accusing it of manipulations in the TRP. This is widely seen as a politically motivated case originating from the tussle between Maharashtra’s ruling coalition (Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress) and TV channel owner Arnab Goswami. Mumbai Police case is limited to the alleged bribery of homes where TV rating meter is connected and their main agenda is to fix Arnab Goswami, who for the past four months has been attacking the ruling coalition in Maharashtra.
NBA worry is that the Arnab Vs Maharashtra Government scrap has reached the hands of CBI which is having the mandate of looking into the entire TRP business and fraudulent activities in BARC for the past so many years.
Last week another case on the manipulation of TRP was registered on a general complaint in Uttar Pradesh and within days transferred to the CBI. The case is on the general issue of TRP scam, where the problem starts with all TV channels. In April 2018, PGurus have detailed this TRP (Television Rating Points) scam and the role of a private agency called BARC (Broadcast Audience Research Council) in fudging the data in two reports. The reports explained how Star TV India and other TV channels-controlled BARC was allowed by the Government to run this rating business by violating guidelines of the Information and Broadcasting Ministry and Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI). In a recent article also we have explained how to stop this unscientific and fraudulent method in TV ratings.
Arnab Goswami and some other channels like TV9 Group has recently exited the NBA and formed another body called the National Broadcasters Federation (NBF). But still, NBA is a big body headed by India TV owner Rajat Sharma. All major TV channels like Times Group, India Today Group, Mukesh Ambani’s Network 18, NDTV, Zee Group, ABP Group, and major regional players are part of the NBA, which shares more than 90 percent of the TV advertisement revenue of more than Rs.70,000 crores in India.
Their (NBA) worried that the Arnab Vs Maharashtra Government scrap has reached the hands of CBI which is having the mandate of looking into the entire TRP business and fraudulent activities in BARC for the past so many years. A CBI probe will lead to the revenue and books of accounts of TV channel companies and all the owners fear a possible Income Tax crackdown. This is the simple reason the NBA comes out with a curious statement of asking the Government to withdraw CBI’s First Information Report (FIR).
How can the NBA ask the Government to direct CBI to withdraw FIR? Well, if NDTV can stay on despite an I&B order to shut it down for 24 hours for proven anti-national activities, should anything come as a surprise? Do these news broadcasters have any knowledge of basic law? Once an FIR is registered, it can only be closed by the Court after satisfying the probe agency’s closure report. This is something like telecom operators asking the Government to direct to stop probe on 2G Scam or Coal miners asking the Government to stop probing the Coal Scam.
If all the books are clean, then why should the TV channel owners and Editors worry about a probe? The TV channels quarrel among themselves about the TRP which decides the share of advertisement revenue. But the NBA’s objection shows that they don’t want probe agency to enter their world of money flows. It is like the fights inside a Casino between the players and they unite when the Police lands.
 TRP Scam: Data fudging or leakages by totally foreign companies-controlled TRP rating agency BARC? – Apr 22, 2018, PGurus.com
 TRP Scam bursts out. How to stop fraud in TV ratings? – Oct 9, 2020, PGurus.com
 NBF with Arnab vs Rajat Sharma’s NBA — fight is on to regulate India’s news TV channels – Aug 14, 2019, The Print