The Mumbai Police on Thursday clarified that their investigation into television rating points or TRP manipulation by three television channels was based on a complaint by a private firm, reported NDTV. “The complaint was lodged by independent agency Hansa, not us,” said Mumbai Police chief Param Bir Singh. “Suspicious trends were noticed by them, not us. They noticed suspicious trends of ratings or certain channels. They shared details of discrepancies.”

Earlier in the day, the Mumbai Police said it was looking into allegations of TRP manipulation by Republic TV and two other Marathi television channels. Four people allegedly associated with a false TRP racket have been arrested so far. Officials of Republic TV, which claims the highest TRPs among news channels, are likely to be summoned by investigators either on Friday or Saturday.

TRPs are a tool provided to judge which programmes are viewed the most. It gives an index of the choice of the people and also the popularity of a particular channel. The private firm that filed the complaint, Hansa, assesses viewership.

Param Bir Singh said the Broadcast Audience Research Council, or BARC, has also provided them with evidence of rigged ratings. “We have got evidence from BARC on suspicious patterns,” he added. “We are collecting more evidence. Any advertising revenue made by manipulating ratings is a crime. We will investigate that. We have three months to do so.”

Explaining how the police zeroed in on the racket, Singh said BARC had identified a suspicious trend. “The names of households were shared by BARC and Hansa,” he added. “The households told us they were paid money to watch channels to raise TRPs. We have called three witnesses who were paid money to watch a particular channel.”

Singh’s remarks came after Republic TV strongly denied the charges, reported News18. In a statement, the channel’s Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami said he would file a criminal defamation suit against the Mumbai Police and accused Singh of making false allegations because he had questioned him in the Sushant Singh Rajput case investigation. “He should issue a public apology or get ready to face us in court,” Goswami said.

Singh, however, denied any vendetta against Republic TV, which has been critical of the Mumbai Police in connection with the Sushant Singh Rajput death investigation. “I have no grand design to clean up the system,” Singh said. “A complaint was received by us and we will do a professional job, collect evidence. We don’t proceed against anyone with vendetta.”

He pointed out that over a lakh fake accounts were created to malign the image of the police. “Our investigations in the Sushant Singh Rajput case were professional and the Supreme Court also endorsed it,” he added. “Our investigation into the TRP case will also be professional.”

Also see: Video analysis examines how TRP-hungry media sensationalised Sushant Singh Rajput’s death

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