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Tuesday, January 26, 2021

TRP fraud case: Police file 1,400-page chargesheet

The owners of Republic media and News Nation have been named as wanted accused in the chargesheet. The police said they were likely to charge them in a supplementary chargesheet later.

Written by Mohamed Thaver | Mumbai | Updated: November 25, 2020 12:05:45 pm
During investigation, it came to light that the gang had 38 offences registered against it in the past decade ranging from drug use, robbery and encroachment, police said.

The Mumbai Police Crime Branch on Monday filed a 1,400-page chargesheet in the alleged fake Television Rating Points (TRP) case, naming six channels, including those of Republic Media Network and News Nation, as allegedly paying money to boost TRPs for around two years.

The owners of Republic media and News Nation have been named as wanted accused in the chargesheet. The police said they were likely to charge them in a supplementary chargesheet later.

The police said that all named in the chargesheet were free-to-air channels and relied solely on advertisement revenue as a means of income.

The chargesheet comes a day before the Mumbai Police is set to submit its investigation report in a sealed cover before the Bombay High Court, which is hearing a plea by Republic media seeking that the FIR against it be quashed.

While in October, police had said channels were paying money to intermediaries like employees of Hansa Research Group — which measures TRPs on behalf of Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) — to boost it, the chargesheet talks about another manner in which TRPs were boosted.

Assistant Inspector Sachin Vaze from the Crime Intelligence Unit (CIU), which is probing the case, said: “Apart from paying money to boost TRPs, we have found that Republic network took the help of dual Logical Channel Number (LCN) to boost TRP. Using LCN would show that a particular channel was not only being watched by people in the news channel section, but also by those watching the channels in the kids section. By showing the channel on two frequencies, its TRP increased.”

“This is against TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India) guidelines,” he said, adding that they will also look into the role of cable operators.

In synopsis of the chargesheet, police said, “Hansa Vision Private Limited is the holding company of Hansa Research Group. During investigation, it has come to light that the former had monetary relations with TV channels. It has been found that the company did not reveal this to BARC.”

Of the 12 people chargesheeted in the case, five are former Hansa Research Group employees, owners of news channels and one Republic media employee – assistant vice-president (distribution) Ghanshyam Singh, currently behind bars. The statements of nearly 140 witnesses have been attached to the chargesheet.

The charges applied relate to cheating, forgery, criminal conspiracy and destruction of evidence with the maximum sentence of 10 years.

“We have filed a chargesheet against 12 people today. The investigation against the rest continues and we will be filing further chargesheets,” Vaze said.

He added that while the probe began after Hansa employees named India Today channel — which was mentioned in the FIR — “it turned out to be a bogus claim”.

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