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Published On: Fri, Oct 9th, 2020

Mumbai police summons Republic TV CFO in TRP manipulation scam

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cp-MumbaiMUMBAI: Mumbai Police on Friday issued a summons to Republic TV’s Chief Financial Officer (CFO) in connection with the Television Rating Points (TRP) manipulation racket it is probing, an official said. Shiva Subramaniyam Sundaram, CFO of Republic TV, was asked to join the investigation on Saturday morning, he said.

Besides him, the police also summoned accountants of Marathi channels `Fakt Marathi’ and `Box Cinema’ and those of a couple of advertising agencies, he said.
The summons to Sundaram said there are reasonable grounds to believe that he is “acquainted with certain facts and circumstances of the matter and the same are required to be ascertained”. He was asked to come to the city police’s headquarters around 11 am, an official said.
The Crime Intelligence Unit (CIU) of Mumbai Crime Branch is investigating the fake TRP racket. On Thursday, the police arrested four persons including owners of Fakt Marathi and Box Cinema in the case. Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh claimed that three channels including Republic TV manipulated the TRP.

The racket came to light when BARC, an organization which measures TRP, filed a complaint in this regard through Hansa Research Group Pvt Ltd, police said. Republic TV is the biggest name to have emerged in the early investigation with viewers testifying that they had been paid to keep the channel on even when they were not watching. The two others are local channels in Maharashtra called Fakt Marathi and Box Cinema.

The police said they intend to carry out a “forensic audit” of Republic TV’s accounts and the summons to Mr Sundaram contend that there are reasonable grounds to believe that he is “acquainted with certain facts and circumstances of the matter”.The police have also summoned accountants of the two other channels and those from a couple of advertising agencies.
Four people, including owners of the two smaller channels have already been arrested in the case. The police have said the accounts of Republic TV and the others could be frozen if it was established that the channels made advertising money using rigged ratings.

Republic TV has strongly refuted the allegations and accused the Mumbai Police of vendetta because it had raised questions on its investigation into actor Sushant Singh Rajput’s death and other stories which have been critical of the state’s Shiv Sena-led coalition government.
Republic TV’s Arnab Goswami said he will sue Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh for the allegations and that there is “not a single BARC (Broadcast Audience Research Council) report that mentioned Republic TV”. “The people of India know the truth. BARC has not mentioned Republic in any complaint,” he added.

According to the police, the complaint in the case was filed earlier this month by Hansa Research, a company appointed by BARC, which installs “people metres” to track viewership. The company said some former employees had shared details of the households being tracked and helped rig ratings.
(Bureau Report with agency Inputs).


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