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TRP case charge sheet names Republic TV head Arnab Goswami as accused

The criminal intelligence unit (CIU) of the Mumbai police crime branch on Tuesday filed a 1,912-page second supplementary charge sheet in the television rating point (TRP) manipulation case, naming seven more persons, including Arnab Goswami, editor-in-chief of Republic TV and R Bharat news channels, as an accused
By HT Correspondents, Mumbai
PUBLISHED ON JUN 23, 2021 12:31 AM IST

The criminal intelligence unit (CIU) of the Mumbai police crime branch on Tuesday filed a 1,912-page second supplementary charge sheet in the television rating point (TRP) manipulation case, naming seven more persons, including Arnab Goswami, editor-in-chief of Republic TV and R Bharat news channels, as an accused. Goswami’s lawyer refused to comment.

With the addition of the seven new accused, five of them connected to Republic TV group , namely Goswami, Shiva Subramanyam, Priya Mukherji, Shivendra Muldhekar and Ranjit Waltkar, and two to Maha Movie channel, Amit Dave and Sanjay Verma, the number of accused in the case has now gone up to 22.

On the basis of a complaint lodged by representatives of Hansa Research Group, a contractor employed by the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC), a joint industry company set up by stakeholders to manage television audience measurement system, Kandivli police on October 6, 2020 registered an offence against some of their relationship managers for allegedly manipulating TV ratings and helping some channels to artificially enhance their ratings. The complainant alleged that certain television channels were rigging TRP through some of their relationship manager.

TRP is measured by recording viewership data at sample households and is considered crucial for attracting advertisers. Police claimed some of the households, where BARC Bar-o-Meters were installed for measuring TRP, were bribed by Republic TV and a few other channels through Hansa Research Group’s relationship managers who were directly in touch with the households, for illegally enhancing their TRP.

The case was later transferred to CIU, which filed the first charge sheet against 12 accused on November 24, 2020 and first supplementary charge sheet against three more accused on January 11, 2021.

CIU officers said their investigation has revealed that three modes were used by the channels to enhance their TRP by inducing the panel homes where the Bar-o-Meters are installed, by paying money to watch certain TV channels for specific time, dual LCN - by placing one TV channel on two different frequencies by the Multi-System Operators or Cable Operators for one TV channel and by manipulating TV channel viewership data (Metarule) received at BARC.

Police officers said that they have already made out a case against the representatives of all the channels involved in TRP manipulation - Box Cinema, Fast Marathi, Mahamovie, Republic TV and Republic Bharat - had in connivance with Hansa Research Group’s relationship managers and some BARC officers got their TRP illegally enhanced.

Police have annexed long WhatsApp chats between Goswami, named as accused no. 19 in the case, and former BARC CEO Partho Dasgupta, which were recovered during the course of investigation. Police claimed that Gupta and Goswami were in constant touch for the news channel’s benefit and Dasgupta had shared huge confidential information of BARC with Goswami.

During investigation, the crime branch made a list of questions and it was sent to Goswami through email. The police claimed that Goswami answered all the questions and he had allegedly accepted that the recovered chats were his conversation with Gupta.

Police also learnt that Times Now channel’s rating was reduced and republic’s rating was increased by the accused due to which Times Now suffered loss of 432 crore. They claimed that they have submitted additional evidence against Goswami and other accused in the second supplementary charge sheet.

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