Republic TV Among 3 Channels Under Mumbai Police Radar For Manipulating TRPs

The Mumbai Police have busted a major TRP manipulation racket and have arrested two people in this regard.

India   |   9 Oct 2020 4:42 AM GMT
Writer : Navya Singh | Editor : Vinay Prabhakar | Creatives : Rajath Arkasali Arkasali
Republic TV Among 3 Channels Under Mumbai Police Radar For Manipulating TRPs

Image Credit: IndiaTV News

Republic TV, along with two other channels is being probed for allegedly manipulating and rigging ratings and using them to spread fake narratives and gain ad revenues, the Mumbai police said on October 8.

Owners of Fakt Marathi and Box Cinema have been arrested and the directors and promoters of Republic TV are being probed for ratings fraud. Accounts of Republic TV and the others could be frozen if it was found that the channels made advertising money using rigged ratings, Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh said.

The Mumbai Police in its FIR had named India Today, however, the Commissioner later clarified, "In the FIR, India Today was named by one of the witnesses. But as the probe progressed neither BARC, nor witnesses, nor accused named India Today. All named Republic TV, Marathi channels. As of now no evidence against India Today. We are proceeding against Republic TV, Marathi channels."

"The ratings scam emerged during a larger analysis of the manipulation of news trends and how a "false narrative" was being spread, especially in connection with the probe into actor Sushant Singh Rajput's death, "Singh said.

"The biggest name to emerge is Republic TV," the top cop said.

The bank accounts of the channels will be investigated, Singh said, besides the funds they receive from advertisers and "whether they are from proceeds of crimes". "Anyone involved in the channel, no matter how much in the top, how senior, will be questioned, and if involved they will be investigated. No one, no matter how senior, will escape."

The police commissioner said that there was false TRP spreading, TRP ratings were being bought and the manipulation was mainly for advertising revenues.

Singh said that former employees of Hansa, an agency that placed ratings metres in select households, shared confidential data with the three channels that are now under the scanner. Hansa's data is used by BARC (Broadcast Audience Research Council), which releases weekly rating points for channels across India.

BARC had hired Hansa to monitor 2,000 barometers that have been installed to monitor ratings in Mumbai. The investigation is based on Hansa's complaint, the top cop said. "We suspect that if this was happening in Mumbai then it could be happening in other parts of the country as well," he said.

Media channels allegedly bribed the households being metered to keep their channel switched on all the time even if they were not watching it. "If you see the data, poor uneducated households that don't speak English were watching only English TV channels," Singh said.

The cop also revealed that the families were given a monthly amount of ₹ 400-500 to push up ratings.

Soon after the allegations surfaced, Arnab Goswami threatened to sue the Mumbai Police commissioner and accused him of making false allegations "because we have questioned him in the Sushant Singh Rajput case investigation". He also said: "He should issue a public apology or get ready to face us in court."

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