TRP manipulation case: Republic TV CEO arrested

According to the police, Republic TV officials had contacted cable operators to use LCN and promotional LCN technology to fudge TRPs. Khanchandani was aware of it as he was a part of the channel’s internal WhatsApp group where discussions on LCN took place, the police have said
Republic TV CEO Vikas Khanchandani brought to a court in Mumbai on Sunday.(Anshuman Poyrekar/HT Photo)
Republic TV CEO Vikas Khanchandani brought to a court in Mumbai on Sunday.(Anshuman Poyrekar/HT Photo)
Updated on Dec 14, 2020 01:22 AM IST
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Hindustan Times, Mumbai | ByVijay Kumar Yadav

Mumbai Police on Sunday arrested Republic TV’s chief executive officer (CEO) Vikas Khanchandani in connection with the alleged television rating points (TRP) fraud case. Joint commissioner of police (crime) Milind Bharambhe has confirmed Khanchandani’s arrest. The holiday court has remanded Khanchandani in police custody till Tuesday.

Despite repeated attempts, Republic TV officials did not respond to HT’s calls and messages. However, in a tweet on its official handle, the channel quoted Arnab Goswami and said, “The truth will triumph. Republic refuses to compromise. We hope the Bombay HC takes suo motu cognisance of this as court remands CEO Vikas Khanchandani to police custody.”

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Khanchandani had been questioned previously by the investigators twice before his arrest.

During the crime branch’s probe into TRP case, it had been revealed that some cable operators had used dual landing channel number (LCN) technology, which facilitated the viewing of the same channel on two different channel numbers at a time. According to the police, Republic TV officials had contacted cable operators to use LCN and promotional LCN technology to fudge TRPs. Khanchandani was aware of it as he was a part of the channel’s internal WhatsApp group where discussions on LCN took place, the police have said.

The police claimed they have discovered the discussions on WhatsApp over fixing LCN to boost Republic TV’s TRP when they had seized the phone of the channel’s chief operating officer (COO) Priya Mukherjee, who has secured anticipatory bail in the case. “Khanchandani did not submit his mobile phone intentionally to the police to hide evidence,” the police had informed the court on Sunday.

The probe has revealed that Mukherjee had directed the other accused arrested in the case to manipulate TRP, said police. As Mukherjee was working under Khanchandani, he needed to be questioned in this regard, the police had stated in their remand application, while seeking his custody. The remand plea further stated that the police’s special investigation team (SIT) also wished to interrogate Khanchandani over the allegations of money being paid to cable operators and multi-system operators (MSOs) for boosting Republic TV’s TRP through dual/promotional LCN. Investigators also want to question him to ascertain if he is involved in arranging funds to bribe households which have TV barometers (devise to calculate TRP) installed to unlawfully boost the channel’s TRP.

The alleged fraud came to light in October, when ratings agency Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) had claimed that some channels were rigging TRP numbers. SIT has arrested 13 persons in the case so far.

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