The Mumbai police on Thursday said it is probing three television channels, including Republic TV, for allegedly inflating their viewership by bribing households in Mumbai. Mumbai police commissioner Param Bir Singh, in a press conference, revealed that two people have been arrested in this connection.
Param Bir Singh said one of the arrested person is a former employee of an agency that installed ‘people metres’ used to measure viewership.
The top cop said that the three channels, which also include Fakt Marathi and Box Cinema, used to pay around Rs 400-500 to households for keeping their channels on.
“The biggest name to emerge is Republic TV. Republic TV employees admitted to manipulation. The directors and promoters of Republic TV are being investigated for rating fraud,” said Singh.
They will be investigated for cheating and breach of trust and the bank accounts of these channels will be examined, Singh added. Some reports said few Republic TV employees have admitted to tampering with TRPs.
Republic TV’s reaction
Republic TV’s Arnab Goswami refuted the allegations and termed them as “baseless”. Arnab said the channel will sue the Mumbai police commissioner for criminal defamation.
Goswami, loved and reviled in equal measure for his shrill style of anchoring, had taken on the Mumbai Police over the Sushant Singh Rajput death case and accused it of hushing up what he said was “murder” of the young Bollywood anchor.
An AIIMS panel asked by the CBI to analyse the findings has, however, ruled out murder and said the Rajput, 34, committed suicide.
Meanwhile, Republic issued a statement after the controversy erupted. It said: “Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh has made false allegations against Republic TV because we have questioned him in the Sushant Singh Rajput case investigation. Republic TV will file a criminal defamation case against Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh.”
“There is not a single BARC report that mentions Republic TV. The people of India know the truth. Mr. Param Bir Singh’s investigation in the Sushant Singh Rajput case is under a cloud and this is a desperate measure because of Republic TV’s reportage on Palghar, the Sushant Singh Rajput case or any other case.”
“This kind of targeting only strengthens the resolve of everyone at Republic TV to push for the truth even harder. Param Bir Singh stands completely exposed today, since BARC has not mentioned Republic in any single complaint. He should issue an official apology and get ready to face us in court,” the channel said.
How is TV viewership measured?
TV viewership—called the Television Rating Point or TRP—is measured through a complex system that involves installing a device that can detect which channel was on in households during a particular period of time. More viewership means more revenue as advertisers go to channels that grab maximum eyeballs.
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