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Mumbai police summons Republic TV CFO in TRP rigging case

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The Mumbai police have summoned the CFO of Republic TV on Saturday for questing in the Television Rating Points (TRP) rigging case.

Accountants and few other officials of television channels—Fakt Marathi and Box Cinema—have also been asked to appear before the police tomorrow. Officials from agencies handling advertisements for the three channels have also been summoned.

Meanwhile, all four accused, who have been arrested in the TRP scam, have been sent to police custody till October 13.  Out of the four arrested accused, two are owners of Box Cinema TV and Fakt Marathi. The four persons arrested are Bompalli Rao, Vishal Bhandari, owner of Fakt Marathi Shirish Shetty and owner of Box Cinema Narayan Sharma.

This apart, two other accused in the case—Dinesh Vishwakarma and Vinay Tripathi are absconding.

Nexus between the four accused

Revealing the nexus between the four accused arrested in the case, the Mumbai police said that Narayan Sharma and Shirish Shetty paid money to Bompalli Rao for rigging TRP ratings.

Bompalli Rao used to pay around Rs 20,000 per week to Vishal Bhandari to ask people to watch Box Cinema and Fakt Marathi. Bhandari used to approach households and pay them around Rs 400-500 for watching the channels.

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The police said that Bhandari did this work between November 2019 and May 2020. Rao was also in touch with a certain Rocky, who was entrusted to ensure that people watched Republic TV for money.

Mumbai police probing 3 channels

The Mumbai police had 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 had said one of the arrested person is a former employee of an agency that installed ‘people metres’ used to measure viewership.

The top cop had 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.

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.

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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