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ED gives clean chit to Republic TV in TRP rigging case

By, Mumbai
Sep 21, 2022 10:39 PM IST

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has cleared Republic TV and R Bharat of the charge of manipulating the television rating point (TRP) numbers

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has cleared Republic TV and R Bharat of the charge of manipulating the television rating point (TRP) numbers. It has, however, not yet concluded its probe against two other news channels - News Nation and India Today.

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Last week, the agency filed a chargesheet in the special Prevention of Money Laundering Act court, naming 16 accused, which included directors of Box Cinema, Fakt Marathi and Maha Movies channels and several relationship managers (RMs) associated with Hansa Research Group, a contractor employed by the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC), a ratings agency.

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The ED claimed that it had examined the role of Republic channels and found that the investigation carried out by the Mumbai police was “at variance with the probe done by the ED”.

First, the agency said, raw data for the panel households who were allegedly watching Republic channels (as per the police chargesheet) was sought from BARC. “An analysis of viewership pattern showed that these households were watching channels other than Republic TV and R Bharat.”

The panel households denied having taken money for watching Republic channels, it said. “Their statements corroborate the raw data kept independently by BARC.”

Though the RMs said in their statements that they had paid the panel households to watch the channels, it had not found any financial or fund trail so far, the ED said.

The agency further said that the police had relied on a forensic audit which concluded that “the TRP calculation methodology was tinkered with and controls were used to favour specific channels.” However, the auditor appointed by the ED said that the allegations made in the police audit report were “superficial and based on an analysis of limited aspects.”

About News Nation and India Today, the ED said “during the investigation, it has come across leads that certain households were watching News Nation and India Today in lieu of cash from RMs. Further investigation is in progress.”

The agency has, however, said there have been instances of TRP manipulation. “There was a wider conspiracy between channel viewers, agents and RMs to influence/induce the panel households to watch certain channels for monetary gains. The malice seems to be deeper as indicated by several FIRs lodged by BARC in various states,” the chargesheet said.

The ED began its probe based on a case registered by the Kandivli police on October 6, 2020.

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