Republic TV Chief Executive Officer Vikas Khanchandani on Sunday reached the Mumbai Police’s headquarters for questioning in the fake Television Rating Points scam, reported Hindustan Times.
The police had on Saturday also sent summons to the news channel’s Chief Operating Officers Hersh Bhandari and Priya Mukherjee, Distribution Head Ghanshyam Singh, the Chief Executive Officer of Hansa Research Group Praveen Nijhara and another employee. They were all asked to report at 9 am on Sunday.
This was the second round of summons for Singh as he had been asked to appear on Saturday, according to Hindustan Times. He did not come in for questioning and cited “prior commitments” as the reason, India Today reported.
Republic TV’s Chief Financial Officer Shiva Subramaniyam Sundaram, who was also supposed to appear before the police on Saturday, had asked for a reschedule. The police had also summoned executives from two advertising agencies named Madison and IPG Media Brands, according to The India Express.
Madison Head Sam Balsara and IPG Media Brands Chief Executive Officer Shashi Sinha were present at the police headquarters for more than eight hours on Saturday.
- TRP scam: Republic TV CFO asks Mumbai Police to reschedule summons, cites ‘personal commitments’
- TRP scam: Mumbai Police chief says no vendetta against any channel, complaint filed by private firm
The fake TRP racket came to light when ratings agency Broadcast Audience Research Council filed a complaint through Hansa Research Group, alleging that certain television channels were rigging TRP numbers. Hansa Research is one of BARC’s vendors on engagement with panel homes, or “peoples meters”.
Television Rating Point, or TRP, is a metric 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 agency currently has 44,000 panel households measuring viewership across the country, according to The Wire. The data collected from these meters was supposed to be kept under wraps. One of the witnesses in the scam on Friday told NDTV that he was bribed by a television channel to watch a certain programme everyday.
Mumbai Police chief Param Bir Singh had said that an analysis of manipulation of news trends showed a “false narrative” was being spread, especially regarding the investigation into actor Sushant Singh Rajput’s death.
Besides Republic TV, Box Cinema and Marathi channel Fakt Marathi have been accused of TRP manipulation during the preliminary investigation. The Mumbai Police have arrested four people so far, including the owners of Box Cinema and Fakt Marathi, Shirish Shetty and Narayan Sharma. They were produced before a local court on Friday, which remanded them in police custody till October 13.
Republic TV had refuted the allegations of TRP manipulation and accused Mumbai Police of a vendetta. The Mumbai Police, on the other hand, denied any bias and clarified that their investigation was based on a complaint by Hansa Research Group, which is a private firm.
The scam is now likely to be taken up by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology, which is headed by Congress leader Shashi Tharoor.