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In the ongoing investigation in a Television Rating Points (TRP) manipulation scam, the Mumbai Police has found evidence against Republic TV in the diary of one of the accused.
The police found entries of several households in the diary of accused identified as Vishal Ved Bhandari.
The Mumbai Police had arrested Bhandari on October 8 after he "revealed that he induced household members where BARC barometers are installed to watch Republic TV for a specific time every day for monetary consideration to increase the viewership of the said channel which resulted into TRP manipulation"
When the households were questioned by Mumbai Police, they admitted that Bhandari had been paying them money every month to watch Republic TV, The Mumbai Police has also found messages exchanged between these households regarding payments.
A witness in the TRP scam story has claimed that she was approached by a person in January 2019 who told her that he would be installing a barometer in her house to calculate TRP.
"He told me we will also give ₹483 per month for placing the barometer," the witness said. "In January 2020, one Dinesh Vishwakarma along with Vishal Bhandari came to my house for maintenance and TRP reading. They asked me if I watched Republic news channel. I told them no because I don't like it."
"They told me to watch Republic news channel every day for two hours and told me I will be paid an additional ₹400 to watch Republic news channel. When I said yes, they paid me ₹400 in cash. I never used to watch Republic channel, but they offered money on a monthly basis for keeping Republic channel on and I agreed," the witness claimed.
Mumbai Police said that a sudden increase in the watch time of Republic TV has been observed by the agencies in the households that were being paid by the accused. The ratings of Republic Media's Republic Bharat had gone up exponentially raising concerns of a foul play.
Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC), the body that provides rating points to TV channels in the country, suspected Republic TV of manipulating and rigging the ratings.
Hansa Research, the company that installed the barometers on behalf of BARC, filed a case with the Mumbai Police claiming that some of Hansa Research's former employees had sold the data of the households where these barometers were installed. Following this, the Mumbai Police said that it had busted a TRP manipulation racket as it named three channels, including Republic TV.
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