The war of words between television news channels Republic TV and Times Now continues unabated even as the Mumbai Police and enforcement Directorate scour through volumes of Broadcast Audience Research Council data in their probe into the alleged manipulation of Television Rating Points.

At the heart of the faceoff are the Whatsapp conversations between Republic TV Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami and former BARC CEO Partho Dasgupta that were leaked recently.

The Republic Media Network believes there is a commercial conspiracy behind the attempts to drag Arnab Goswami into controversy when "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 1 position to deliberately mislead the public and retain focus on its unfounded allegations against Republic TV".

Times Group has alleged that from the leaked WhatsApp chats it is now clear that Times Now's TRPs were indeed manually reduced by BARC officials headed by the then CEO Partho Dasgupta and Romil Ramgarhia before publishing, with the intention to give undue advantage to Republic TV in the English news genre. 

Republic Media Network, on the other hand, believes that there is a collusion of corporate and political interests to target Arnab Goswami. 

In a statement (read it here), Republic TV claimed that WhatsApp conversations had been manipulated when in fact "Arnab Goswami is complaining about the TRP manipulation by other news channels, especially Times Now", and the misuse of landing pages by Times Now".

Republic media network claims that the smoking gun against Times Now is in the Forensic Report of BARC which is included in the Mumbai Police charge sheet, which allegedly "exposes the fact that TIMES NOW was using landing pages to artificially spike its ratings". 

"This 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," the channel claimed.

Republic TV's salvo comes a day after Times Now claimed that "since 2017 and especially after the launch of Republic TV in May 2017, BCCL/ Times Network suspected large scale manipulation of ratings pertaining to illegal usage of multiple LCNs and out of EPG placement by Republic TV." 

The channel also claimed that it had found significant abnormalities in market-wise ratings of Republic TV clearly indicating ground level tampering and/ or deliberate intervention at the raw data level to favour them. This, Times Now, claims that was done to fraudulently declare Republic TV as number 1, even when Times Now was "consistently higher by a large margin and was the undisputed leader of the genre".

Republic TV, however, shot back stating that 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 (assisted and cheered by the Pakistan Government) has fed this lie that has been lapped up by the media inimical to the Republic Media Network," Republic TV statement said.

Also lashing out at Times now for questioning Arnab Goswami over his WhatsApp remarks with regard to the Pulwama attacks, Republic TV said, "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."

While the Times Group is all set to sue the BARC, Republic TV says it 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 the channel".