March 17, 2021 10:11:22 pm
Ahead of its prosecution complaint (chargesheet) in the alleged TRP scam, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Wednesday provisionally attached immovable and movable assets and bank balances of Rs 32 crore in Mumbai, Indore, Delhi and Gurgaon belonging to television channels, namely Fakt Marathi, Box Cinema and Maha Movie.
In a statement, the agency informed that it has found that the total proceeds of “crime” of the three channels under probe is about Rs 46 crore. The probe is based on an FIR registered by Mumbai Police.
The ED also said Fakt Marathi, Box Cinema and Maha Movie entered into a “criminal conspiracy to cheat, and committed the offence of criminal breach of trust, forgery in order to gain wrongfully by manipulating TRPs (television rating point) of these television channels”.
The channels garnered enhanced advertisement revenue through manipulation.
“During the course of the investigation, it was found that confidential information of households, where BAR-O-meters are installed, was revealed by relationship managers to various unscrupulous elements for pecuniary gains and, thereafter, the households were bribed and induced to watch specific channels, which fraudulently enhanced TRP for television channel and on the basis of rigged TRP, advertisers were deceived and advertised on the channel that would not have been otherwise done,” the ED said.
“In two of these channels; just five compromised households were contributing to approximately 25 per cent viewership of Mumbai for the relevant period and for the third channel, five compromised households were contributing to approximately 12 per cent viewership of Mumbai,” the agency said.
The TRP scam came to light last year when Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) lodged a complaint through Hansa Research Group alleging that certain TV channels were rigging TRP numbers.
The Mumbai Police has arrested 13 people in connection with the case, including former COO of BARC. It has chargesheeted 12 people in the case, including former officials of Hansa Research Group, owners of news channels and one Republic Media employee – assistant vice-president (distribution) Ghanshyam Singh. They have been charged with cheating, criminal conspiracy and destruction of evidence.
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