Mumbai Police Commissioner, Param Bir Singh said that the police is probing a scam involving manipulation of TRPs in three television channels. Singh told reporters that a national TV news channel, facing flak over its attack on Mumbai police and Maharashtra government in the Sushant Singh Rajput death case was also involved in the TRP racket.
Although the commissioner did not mention the names of the channels, reports suggest that the channels allegedly involved in the scam are -- Republic-TV, Fakt Marathi, and Box Cinema. The three channels have been accused of distorting the systems used by Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) to increase their TRP.
A BARC India spokesperson told CNBC-TV18, "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."
BARC has filed a complaint in the matter and four people have been arrested -- two from Hansa Research Group and two from Fakt Marathi & Box Cinema.
The Detection Crime Branch of Mumbai police, which unearthed the alleged racket, has arrested owners of two Marathi channels, for manipulating viewership ratings, Singh said.
The national news channel involved in the TRP racket and persons responsible for this will also be arrested, whether one is a director or promoter or any other employee of the channel, the police commissioner said.
Bank accounts of these channels are also being probed and people responsible for the TRP racket are being summoned by police for further investigation in the case.
TRP is a tool to judge which TV programmes are viewed the most and indicates the viewers' choice and popularity of a particular channel. It is calculated through a confidential set of households on the basis of the TV channels they watch.
Republic TV has refuted the allegations and has said that the channel would sue the Mumbai Police Commissioner for the claim.
Later in the evening, Hansa Research CEO Praveen Nijhara issued a statement and said: “This is with reference to the media reports regarding TRP ratings being manipulated. Hansa Research and BARC conducted an investigation into the matter over the last few weeks, the conclusion of which resulted in Hansa Research filing an FIR against an ex-employee who was engaged in some wrongdoing.
"Hansa Research has always been vigilant about these issues and has been proactive in informing BARC and the law enforcement agencies as and when such cases have come to our notice. We would continue to cooperate with BARC and with the authorities as and when called upon to do so.”
(With inputs from PTI)
(Edited by : Jerome)
First Published: IST