In a recent turn of events, Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh told reporters that the city police are probing a scam involving manipulation of TRPs. He identified three channels, namely Fakt Marathi, Box Cinema, and Republic-TV which the police commissioner said are involved in distorting the apparatus used by BARC to rate television channels.
TRP is known as Television Rating Point. It shows the rating of the TV channel and the serial viewed most. The TRP is calculated on the basis of TV channel viewership in a set of households.
As per the commissioner, the accused would bribe these households and ask them to run some channels continuously even if they were not home. The BARC (Broadcast Audience Research Council) releases weekly rating points for TV channels in India and its own officials are also being questioned in connection with the case.
In a statement issued later on Thursday, BARC said, “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.”
According to commissioner Param Bir Singh, There are 2,000 barometers installed in Mumbai to monitor TRPs. BARC has given confidential contracts to an agency called ‘Hansa’ for monitoring these barometers. Accused would ask some households to keep some channels on even if they were not at home.
Two people have arrested both owners of Marathi channels Fakt Marathi and Box Cinema will be produced in court and the Mumbai Police have got their custody. One accused has been arrested with Rs 20 lakhs while Rs 8.5 lakhs has been found in a bank locker, Commissioner Param Bir Singh said. Arrests were made under sections 409 and 420 of IPC. The complaint was filed by Hansa Research against some of their ex-employees who could have misused data on households where the TRP monitoring systems are installed. Some current employees could also be involved and some insiders could be involved. It is cheating (breach of trust) complaint turned into an FIR, the police commissioner told reporters.
Promoters and other employees of Republic TV will be summoned and questioned, Commissioner Param Bir Singh said. Summons will be sent to Republic officials, including editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami on Thursday and they will be asked to appear before the investigating team, the commissioner said.
The Mumbai Police have shared the probe findings with the Information and Broadcasting (I&B) ministry.
(With inputs from multiple sources)