Why? Damn! Pray 🙏🏻

28 Dec,2020

 

By Pradyuman Maheshwari

 

The question we ask Dr Bhaskar Das in today’s Das ka Dum is genuine. Ever since we got the news of the arrest of Partho Dasgupta, former BARC CEO, an industry biggie and President of the Advertising Club, we have been very disillusioned with the way things have unfolded over the last few months, in fact last few years.

 

For, not only is Dasgupta a friend of the industry and ours, but his arrest and the charges made thereafter have shattered our faith in the A&M&E industry. Shattered our faith in the various systems, processes and provisions… in the checks and balances that exist.

 

Over the last few days, we’ve spoken with many biggies in the business as also people who do the nuts-and-bolts work in the large agencies and television channels.

 

There is surprise, shock and dismay. Almost everyone shared the sentiment with us.

 

There are many questions:

 

1. BARC is a joint industry body set up by broadcasters (60%), advertisers and advertising agencies (20% each). Did these stakeholders not see any chinks in the system all these years?

 

2. The concern over Republic’s rise and rise was raised by news broadcasters soon after the channel was launched in May 2017. They even pulled out their watermarks in anger, a move that was poohpoohed by many in the business, MxMIndia included. What were the measures taken by the powers that be? Why wasn’t a detailed enquiry instituted earlier? Why did the BARC Board not do anything then? And if they did, why didn’t they act on stuff? Or if they think what’s emerging is untrue, then why don’t they speak up now?

 

3. What is the view of the IBF, the ISA and the AAAI on this? After all they are stakeholders/co-owners of BARC. They are joint signatories on the BARC P&L and all legal documents. The broadcasters – the most aggrieved if there’s any hera-pheri in the system – have done precious little. The advertisers – who have the most to lose – appear to have been mute witness, and do not care much about what has happened.

 

4. Arnab Goswami’s counter-argument – which was readied in superquick time – has some valid points. And his primary argument – that the meteoric rise of Republic Bharat happened when the “new dispensation” at BARC was in office – is not incorrect.

 

5. The Times of India went to town with the news on Saturday – and its interpretation of the Friday press conference and statement by the Mumbai Joint CP wasn’t incorrect. But the question is if the logic was corrected after the investigations, how were Republic TV and Republic Bharat still the #1 in English and Hindi until the ratings were blocked for individual channels post October 8?

 

The media ecosystem needs answers. The Nation Indeed Wants to Know.

 

And if they don’t get them, it will lead to the collective loss and fall of the entire industry. Broadcasters first, advertisers second and media agencies third.

 

Willy-nilly, each of the constituents is partly responsible for the way things are today.

 

But, first, the collective wisdom of all these folks must prevail upon Arnab Goswami to take it easy. Without compromising on its editorial freedom, stop getting so belligerent with the Maharashtra government and Mumbai police and stop spewing invectives in the way he has been.

 

The casualty right now is not just the industry, also the families of the individuals impacted and arrested.

 

By the time you read this, Partho Dasgupta would’ve seen his stay in jail extended or could be out on bail. We’re hoping it’s the latter, so that he can come out and clarify his stand. And give us his side of the story.

 

Knowing Partho, we know he will speak. Name names.

 

We had a busy Christmas Eve and Christmas. Why do we get this feeling that our New Year’s Eve is also going to be as busy?! Sob.

 

 

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