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Published On: Thu, Oct 8th, 2020

Republic TV Fake TRP Scam: BARC submits TRP data sought by cops

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TRPMUMBAI: The war between the Maharashtra State Government and Republic TV has turned ugly as the Mumbai Police have claimed that they have busted a fake TRP scam.
Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh on Thursday said that the Mumbai Police have identified three channels, namely Fakt Marathi, Box Cinema, and Republic-TV which are reportedly involved in distorting the apparatus used by BARC to rate television channels.
Amidst the massive TRP botch up, more details are now emerging from the probe by Mumbai police on the fake TRP scandal. Mumbai police will serve summons to the top bosses of Republic TV tomorrow.
On Republic TV, the Mumbai CP said, “BARC has submitted that Republic TV is a suspect in TRP manipulation. 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.
The accounts of Republic TV and the others could be frozen if it was established that the channels made advertising money using rigged ratings, he said. 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, Mr Singh said. The information had been shared with the central government, he added.
The probe is not a part of a vendetta because the Mumbai police have several other inquiries against the owner. The fact that the case was registered on October 6. Mumbai police has retrieved certain digital evidences, their WhatsApp chats in which the transactions have been highlighted.
Vishal Bhandari’s name has been mentioned in Republic TV and the other two Marathi channels whose names are now under the radar. Certain households were paid around Rs. 400 and were asked to watch the channel.
The complaint was filed by Hansa Research against some of their ex-employees who could have misused the data on the households where the TRP monitoring systems are installed. Some current employees could also be involved and some insiders could be involved. It’s cheating (breach of trust) complaint turned into FIR.

Officials of Republic TV which claims the highest TRPs or Television Rating Points among news channels will be summoned today or tomorrow, CP Param Bir Singh told reporters, dropping a bombshell in the middle of a row over the media coverage of the Sushant Singh Rajput case and aggressive criticism of the Mumbai police by some channels.
Asked whether the inquiry would include Arnab Goswami, the Editor-in-Chief of Republic, the police chief said: “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.”
He explained that the scam was based on household data being revealed to channels, which used it to manipulate ratings. “Based on these ratings they received illegal advertising funds. This will be considered proceeds of cheating,” said the police chief. ” The manipulation was mainly for advertising revenues.”
In Mumbai, 2,000 barometers are installed to monitor ratings and BARC hired ‘Hansa” to monitor these. 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 added.
The media organisations 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,” Mr Singh said. He claimed that the families were offered a monthly payment of Rs 400-500 for their role in pushing up ratings.
Meanwhile, In a statement, Arnab Goswami said he would 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 added: “He should issue a public apology or get ready to face us in court.”
“Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh has made false allegations against Republic TV because we have questioned him in the Sushant Singh Rajput case investigation. Republic TV will file a criminal defamation case against Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh.
BARC has been served notice and its officials are also being questioned. “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,” said a company spokesperson.

Ratings manipulation has been a familiar charge in the television industry. Central ministers have commented on it and even the Supreme Court recently criticized the race for TRPs in a case involving Sudarshan TV’s “UPSC Jihad” show. “The problem with the electronic media is all about TRPs, leading to more and more sensationalism that damages the reputation of people,” a judge had remarked.
(Agency Report with Bureau Inputs).

 

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