Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh on Thursday said that his force had busted a scam to manipulate TRPs by some TV channels including Republic TV. There are indications that Republic TV founder Arnab Goswami could be arrested since the Mumbai Police have already arrested the owners of two Marathi channels in connection with the scam. Singh said that bank accounts of the three TV channels including that of Republic TV are to be probed and seized if the allegations of fraud are established.
Singh told reporters on Thursday, “As I said, owners of two channels, Fakt Marathi and Box Cinema, have been arrested. Now our investigation shows that there are chances of people working at Republic TV, the channel’s directors and promoters involved (in the TRP racket). The future investigation is being carried out against Republic TV employees, directors and its directors.”
Singh’s press conference indicated that Goswami as one of the promoters of Republic TV and Republic Bharat too could face arrest. Republic Bharat had recently claimed the top spot in the TRP race by dislodging Aaj Tak, which has historically been the market leader in the Hindi TV news genre.
“As you are aware, TV advertisements run in thousands of crores of rupees,” the Mumbai top cop said adding that income from advertisements by manipulating TRPs will be deemed as ‘proceeds from crime.’
“All those advertisers, from whom this money was obtained through TRP manipulation, will be summoned for grilling. They will be grilled to conclude if they were complicit or victims of this fraud. The TRP system has been manipulated… We have identified three TV channels with Republic TV being the biggest name amongst them,” Singh said.
The Mumbai top cop said that his force will also probe the bank accounts of all three TV channels including that of Republic TV, adding that their bank accounts could be seized. Singh said that TV channels manipulated households by paying them money to boost their TRPs. Each household received to the tune of Rs 400-500 every month. The Police have already conducted interviews with people involved in the scam.
A report by India Today said that ACP Shashank of Crime Branch’s CIU was leading the investigation and DCP and JCP are supervising the investigation.
Goswami has issued a statement, threatening to file a defamation case against Mumbai Police commissioner. His statement read, “Mumbai Police Commissioner‘s targeting only strengthens the resolve of everyone at Republic TV to push for the truth even harder.”
Mumbai Police Commissioner Singh said that he had filed a case on criminal breach of trust and will share the findings with the Union Information and Broadcasting Ministry.
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17:42 PM: There are 2,000 meters installed in Mumbai. Households, where these meters are installed is confidential info. The scam focusses on how these households were paid to watch certain channels & keep them switched on even when no one was watching: Mumbai Police
17:41 PM: If you see the data, poor uneducated households, who dont speak English were watching only English TV channels: Mumbai Police Commissioner
17:39 PM: Congress MP Karti P Chidambaram tweets, “An issue our Parliamentary Committee must examine.