Three channels including Republic TV are being investigated for manipulating Television Rating Points, or TRP, Mumbai police said Thursday.
Addressing a press conference, Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh said the channels bribed households to keep a particular channel switched on to boost their TRP.
The TRP is calculated on the basis of TV channel viewership in a confidential set of households. As per the commissioner, the accused like Republic Tv would bribe these households and ask them to run some channels continuously even if they were not home. The BARC (Broadcast Audience Research Council) releases weekly rating points for TV channels in India and its own officials are also being questioned in connection with the case.
In a statement issued later on Thursday, BARC said, “As in all our previous cases of suspected panel homes intrusions, BARC India continues to follow its established vigilance and disciplinary guidelines. BARC remains steadfastly true to its purpose to accurately and faithfully report ‘What India Watches’. BARC India appreciates the efforts of the Mumbai Police and will provide the support asked of it.”
Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh told reporters an FIR has been registered at Kandivali Police Station for offences of criminal breach of trust (Section 409), cheating (420) and criminal conspiracy (120B) under the Indian Penal Code.
Comissioner Param stated the following:
- There are 2,000 barometers installed in Mumbai to monitor TRPs. BARC has given confidential contracts to an agency called ‘Hansa’ for monitoring these barometers. Accused would ask some households to keep some channels on even if they were not at home.
- Two people were arrested, produced in court and the Mumbai Police have got their custody. One accused has been arrested with Rs 20 lakhs while Rs 8.5 lakhs has been found in a bank locker, Commissioner Param Bir Singh said.
- He added that owners of Marathi channels Fakt Marathi and Box Cinema have been arrested. Arrests were made under sections 409 and 420 of IPC.
- BARC has submitted that Republic TV is a suspect in TRP manipulation, the Mumbai Police Commissioner said. Police received the data of these households from BARC, the rating agency. We suspect that if this was happening in Mumbai then it could be happening in other parts of the country as well, he added.
- ACP Shashank of Crime Branch’s CIU is leading the investigation and DCP and JCP are supervising the investigation.
- The complaint was filed by Hansa Research against some of their ex-employees who could have misused data on households where the TRP monitoring systems are installed. Some current employees could also be involved and some insiders could be involved. It is cheating (breach of trust) complaint turned into an FIR, the police commissioner told reporters.
- Promoters and other employees of Republic TV will be summoned and questioned, Commissioner Param Bir Singh said. Summons will be sent to Republic officials, including editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami on Thursday and they will be asked to appear before the investigating team, the commissioner said.
- Some TV channels ran fake propaganda to gain ratings but now we have come to learn that there was a manipulation being done in BARC systems, Param Bir Singh claimed.
- The culprits, whoever they may be, will be investigated and we will take this fraud case to its logical conclusion, he added.
- The Mumbai Police have shared the probe findings with the Information and Broadcasting (I&B) ministry.
Republic Tv’s Statement
Responding this development, Republic TV head Arnab Goswami issued a statement warning Mumbai Police of criminal defamation case.
Republic Media Network’s Editor-in-Chief Arrnab Goswami issued a statement accusing the Mumbai Police chief of making “false allegations”.
“There is not a single BARC report that mentions Republic TV,” the statement said. “Param Bir Singh stands completely exposed today, since BARC has not mentioned Republic in any single complaint.”