FOR THE first time since investigations into the alleged Television Ratings Point (TRP) scam began nine months ago, Mumbai Police Tuesday named Republic TV editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami as an accused in the case.
In a 1,912-page supplementary chargesheet submitted by the Mumbai Crime Branch in the Esplanade Court, police named seven persons, including Goswami. This is the third chargesheet filed in the case.
In the first chargesheet and a subsequent supplementary chargesheet, police had named “Republic owners” as wanted accused.
The case relates to alleged manipulation of TRPs by some channels to show they had higher viewership and, thus, get higher rates from advertisers. An FIR was registered last October and subsequently two chargesheets were filed in November and January, respectively, against 15 people.
In the latest chargesheet, apart from Goswami, police have named Republic TV CFO Shiva Subramaniam, Priya Mukherjee, Shivendra Mundherkar, Amit Dave, Sanjay Verma and Ranjit Walter as accused. The accused are employees of Republic TV, Republic Bharat and two from Maha Movie TV channel.
This brings the total number of people chargesheeted in the case to 22.
Special Public Prosecutor Shishir Hiray said the fresh chargesheet includes WhatsApp chats to show alleged manipulation of TRP ratings. He said it also includes evidence regarding falsification of documents on TRP due to which wrongful gains were made by the accused.
On Tuesday, an exemption application was filed on behalf of Goswami, which was allowed by the court. The next date of the hearing is on June 28.
Republic TV and its legal team did not respond to attempts made by The Indian Express to seek their version.
In the chargesheet, police said TRP manipulation was done using three techniques.
The first technique, police said, was to allegedly pay money to people whose houses were used as panel homes where barometers were set up on their television channels. The channel they watched the most was given the highest TRP.
The second technique, police said, was dual LCN where one channel will show on more than one frequency, increasing its viewership.
The third technique, according to police, was alleged manipulation of television channel ratings received at Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC), which measures TRP. It was in this connection that police had earlier arrested former BARC CEO Partho Das Gupta, alleging he manipulated TRPs to help the channel.
While the FIR was filed in October last year, investigation had slowed down after lead police investigator Sachin Waze was arrested and subsequently dismissed for involvement in the Ambani terror scare case. In March, Bombay High Court had pulled up police, asking them how much more time they would need to complete the inquiry against Goswami given that months had passed since the FIR.
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