Mumbai police began a probe into three channels for TRP manipulation: Republic TV, Fakt Marathi and Box Cinema. According to the police, the channels tweaked the BARC mechanism that rates TV channels. So far, they have arrested owners of the Fakt Marathi and Box Cinema channels under sections 409 and 420 of the IPC. Republic TV officials will be questioned tomorrow.
The Television Rating Point, or TRP, depends on the viewing of TV channels in a confidential set of households. ACP Shashank of the Crime Branch’s CIU is leading the investigation with the DCP and JCP supervising it. The investigation began after Hansa Research filed a complaint against ex-employees, suspecting that they misused data to manipulate the TRP. The FIR was thus based on a breach of trust.
The BARC (Broadcast Audience Research Council) releases the weekly TRP for channels in India. In order to do this, they have a confidential contract with Hansa to monitor the 2,000 barometers in Mumbai. According to the investigation so far, the accused allegedly bribed people with Rs 400-500 to run the channels while they were not home, thus increasing the rating of the channel. Fake propaganda already increased rating, but the angle of BARC being manipulated is new. In fact, it was found that non-English households ran purely English channels, which only affirms that the channels’ rating increased without any genuineness in it.
Republic TV under the radar for TRP manipulation
The biggest name to emerge is Republic TV.Commissioner Param Bir Singh
BARC submitted that they suspect Republic TV manipulated their TRP. Police are investigating BARC officials as well over this and suspect that if the channel did so in Mumbai, it may be possible across the country. Commissioner Param Bir Singh said that Republic TV officials, including Arnab Goswami, the editor-in-chief, will face an investigation team soon.
Commissioner Singh also talked about how Republic TV spread a ‘false narrative’ around the death of Sushant Singh Rajput. There are also allegations that all the accused, including Republic TV, received illegal advertising funds.
However, Arnab Goswami denied allegations, and demanded that Singh issue a public apology if he wanted to avoid a court fight.
So far, the investigation led to the arrest of two people – one with Rs 20 lakhs, and found another Rs 8.5 lakhs in a bank locker. Police say that they will continue the investigation and conclude the fraud case as soon as possible.
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