The Special Investigation Team of the Mumbai Police Crime Branch on Thursday arrested the former chief operating officer of the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) for his alleged involvement in the Television Rating Points (TRP) manipulation scam.
Romil Ramgarhia was produced before the Mumbai metropolitan magistrate court and remanded in police custody till December 19. According to the police, this is the 14th arrest in the case.
Officers said that Republic TV distribution head Ghanshyam Singh, during his interrogation, had spoken about the dual Logical Channel Number (LCN) system. LCN is an identification number assigned to a TV channel, and the allegations against Republic TV are that it allegedly used dual LCN, which allowed it to show up in the genre of ‘kids channels’, apart from the ‘news channels’ category, thus showing up at two places.
“Many people were called for questioning and we came to know that people working in BARC are also involved. As we investigated further, Ramgarhia’s role was identified,” said an officer.
A team headed by Assistant Police Inspector Sachin Vaze went to Ramgarhia’s residence at Dosti Acres in Wadala on Thursday morning. He was brought in for questioning and arrested at 1.05 pm. The police said that he held the post of the COO in BARC from July 2014 to July 2020.
“Ramgarhia was aware of the trend of television viewership, news viewership and channel performance. As he analysed the revenues of television channels, he had knowledge about their incomes,” said an officer, adding that they suspect that he had shared the information with certain channels that helped them manipulate TRP.
Also, Ramgarhia had knowledge on the locations of barometers across India, which the police suspect he must have shared with television channels, helping them in TRP manipulation. “We have learnt that he has guided and assisted channels in manipulating TRPs,” said an officer.
In his remand application, the police submitted before the court that Ramgarhia’s WhatsApp chats showed that he was in contact with Republic’s TV CEO Vikas Khanchandani, who was on Wednesday released on bail in the case. The police suspect that he has shared some crucial information with Khanchandani that helped the channel manipulate TRP.
The police further told the court that as Ramgarhia has shared information with television channels, it is suspected that he gained financially, due to which his bank accounts should be scrutinised and he be interrogated.
In relation to dual LCN, the police have so far recorded statements of 24 cable operators across Maharashtra, while 50 more cable operators have been summoned for questioning.
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