Opinions and Legal Insights

Fudging of Circulation by Newspapers and TRP by TV Channels is an Open Secret

  Fudging and fraud in showing the inflated figures of circulation of newspapers and Television Rating Points (TRP) is not a new phenomenon. It has been going on for decades. However, a new trend in journalism of naming and shaming of one media house by the other or by one journalist by other has been emerging extremely fast and I personally welcome it. Keeping the malpractices under carpets promotes corruption and the media industry badly inflicted with it. Some media houses have been building empires, some journalists have been making money, getting coveted posts and many more facilities by sheer dint of their connections with the powers that be. The principle of ‘dog does not bite dog’ has been saving corrupt journalists and blackmailers.

    The credit for it certainly goes to some trend setting journalists, who have exposed the nexus and complicity of the journalists, media houses with those of the political parties, foreign-funded establishments, and ruling dispensations. It is said that the attrition generates electricity which enlightens and ensures transparency.  Mumbai police have started investigations against certain channels for fudging the TRPs. There is no doubt that the Mumbai police is doing it at the instance of the political masters, out of vendetta and vindictiveness against one TV channel but the result is certainly going to be good as it will help expose the rampant corruption in the media.

    We often hear the rags to riches story of some journalists and their organisations because of largescale corruption and cronyism. There have been 73000 newspapers in the country according to 1915 records of the RNI. Every newspaper including the big ones has been submitting increased figures of circulation to the government for obtaining advertisements at high rates. There have been newspapers which have been publishing only the file copies and yet they used to claim exceedingly high circulations. Big newspapers like the Times of India, Hindustan Times, the Hindu, Dainik Jagran, Dainik Bhaskar, Amar Ujala, Nav Bharat Times, Hindustan, and India Today etc, have been giving incentives to swell their circulation.

   The reasons are not far to seek when most of the newspapers were up in arms when the Government of India introduced six parameters to release DAVP advertisements. Some of the conditions were like giving the GST receipt on the newsprints used by them, the name of the Printing Press and the number of employees and the PF being paid to them. It was found that the name of a small printing press was being used by thirty to forty daily, weekly, and fortnightly newspapers, and the total circulation of them was no less than twenty to twenty-five lakhs, which was far beyond the capacity of the printing press, which did not have more than four of five employees. No PF was deducted for them. Thus, everyone from the printing press to owners of newspapers chartered accountants, and the minions of DAVP was found to be neck-deep in fraud and the mess. When the attempts were made to stop it, most of them raised the banner of revolt terming it as the onslaught on the freedom of the press. Fly by night media associations sprung up all over the country and orchestrated in one voice that the government was out to stifle and strangulate the small and medium newspapers.  

It is an open secret that almost all TV channels have been managing and manipulating the TRPs but it is undoubtedly a matter of great satisfaction that the investigations will go a long way in exposing and cleansing the fraud and forgery of the channels. It is bound to a blessing in disguise for the people of the country, so, we must welcome it. The Government must also wake up to the occasion to ensure that malaise from media is removed