New TRP rigging case filed in UP, sent to CBI
This is second case -- after one into the death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput -- that CBI will be examining parallelly with a Mumbai Police investigation, based on the recommendation of a state government not linked to the original probe.Updated: Oct 21, 2020, 05:21 IST
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has filed a case to investigate alleged manipulation of Television Rating Points (TRPs) against unknown persons and entities on the recommendation of Uttar Pradesh government, people familiar with the development said on Tuesday.
This is second case -- after one into the death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput -- that CBI will be examining parallelly with a Mumbai Police investigation, based on the recommendation of a state government not linked to the original probe.
The UP Police filed a case in Lucknow’s Hazratganj police station last Saturday on the complaint of Kamal Sharma, who runs an ad agency, which the state government then decided to hand over to CBI. UP’s Additional chief secretary (ACS), home, Awanish Awasthi confirmed that the first information report (FIR) in the alleged TRP scam has been recommended to CBI “as it needed to be investigated thoroughly”.
A senior official in UP said the complainant accused unknown people of manipulating TRPs using forged means. The complainant, who is resident of Rae Bareli, operates a news web portal.
But political leaders in Maharashtra described it as an attempt to “dilute” the Mumbai Police probe at a time when the Shiv Sena-Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) government in the state and the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) at the Centre have been at loggerheads over the case -- particularly over Mumbai Police naming Republic TV as one of three channels accused of manipulating ratings.
“We don’t know if the CBI will be taking over the case filed against the TRP scam in Mumbai. If that is the case then this would be the second instance of encroachment on jurisdiction of the state after Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput’s death case. It is not good for federal democracy,” said senior NCP leader and state minority affairs minister Nawab Malik. NCP holds the home department in the government.
Republic TV and its editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami have denied allegations.
The alleged TRP scam surfaced after Mumbai Police arrested six people for allegedly bribing people whose TV viewing is monitored to ensure certain channels get higher ratings. TRPs of a channel or programme are used to measure popularity by advertising agencies, which affects pricing.
The points are calculated in India by Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) using a device installed in over 45,000 households across the country. In light of the scam, BARC last week suspended its ratings of news channels for 8-12 weeks and said in a statement that it would return with a more “robust” system.
“Manipulation of TRPs is done by making false electronic records. This is easily done as sample size is small. The modus operandi for the same is to provide financial and other incentives to people in households where the People Meter is installed by the BARC. People in such household are incentivised by financial and other means to watch a particular channel so that it affects the ratings of interested parties in positive manner,” the FIR, reviewed by HT, said.
CBI officials said they will look into larger conspiracy in the matter.
In the Rajput case, a political and legal battle ensued between the Bihar and Maharashtra governments over the case before both the Mumbai Police and CBI were allowed to probe the matter parallelly. A forensic report by the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences either this week concluded that Rajput died by suicide, matching the original conclusion of Mumbai Police.