THE MUMBAI Police recorded Sunday the statements of Republic TV chief executive officer (CEO) Vikas Khanchandani, chief operating officer (COO) Hersh Bhandari and channel distribution head Ghanshyam Singh in connection with the ongoing investigation into an alleged television rating points (TRP) manipulation scam.
While Khanchandani and Bhandari appeared at the Mumbai Police headquarters, a police team reached Daman to record Singh’s statement. The police have asked the three to return Monday with certain documents.
On Sunday, the crime branch claimed to have found a diary from Vishal Bhandari, the first person to be arrested in the case. The police believe the diary has names of several families whom Bhandari had allegedly paid money to watch a particular channel to increase its TRP.
The police said they also found a list of the 1,800 houses where barometers were installed in the city from the residence of Bhandari. “Location of these houses are confidential and he should not have kept it at his residence,” API Sachin Vaze, crime branch, said.
Another crime branch officer said police have found the names of a few channels in addition to the three channels booked in the case. “We are checking if those channels, too, were paying him to increase their TRPs,” the officer said.
The three officials from Republic TV, a senior officer said, were questioned Sunday to mainly understand the nature of their work. “We first want to understand how the channel operates and how it gets advertisements. They have explained things to us and we have asked them to get some documents to get further clarity on the operations of the channel,” the officer added.
The Mumbai Police had also issued summons to Republic Media’s chief financial officer (CFO) S Sundaram and COO Priya Mukherjee. “They have given us reasons as to why they could not appear for questioning. While Sundaram has mentioned some health issues, Mukherjee said she was out of the state. We will question them as well,” the officer added.
The police have also obtained details of Republic’s bank account to see if any payments were made to the accused arrested in the case so far. The officer said a team had also visited Rajasthan to track down another accused.
So far, the Mumbai Police have arrested four persons in the case and are on the lookout for three others. Of the four persons arrested, one is a former employee of Hansa Research that calculated TRPs of channels for Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC). Hansa in its complaint alleged their former employee had paid people to watch particular channels to increase their TRPs. The police said, so far, they have found Republic TV, Fakt Marathi and Box Cinemas were involved in the manipulation of TRPs, and are examining if other channels were involved in the alleged scam.
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