The Mumbai Police on Thursday claimed to have busted a 'false TRP racket', where households were apparently asked to keep channels switched on the entire day. The officers claimed that even in uneducated homes, some English news channels remained switched on.
Mumbai Police commissioner Param Bir Singh said that four people have been arrested in the matter and officers are searching locations of their associates. "TV advertising industry is worth 30,000-40,000 crore. The rates are decided on the basis of TRP. Even if minor changes are made in TRP, it affects advertising," he said.
The Detection Crime Branch of Mumbai police, which unearthed the TRP racket, has arrested owners of two Marathi channels, for manipulating viewership ratings, an official said.
TRP is a tool to judge which TV programmes are viewed the most and also indicates the viewers' choice and popularity of a particular channel.
Singh told reporters that a national TV news channel, facing flak over its attack on Mumbai police and Maharashtra government in the Sushant Singh Rajput death case, was also involved in the TRP racket.
This national news channel is also involved in the TRP racket and persons responsible for this will also be arrested, whether one is director, promoter or any other employee of the channel, the police commissioner said. Bank accounts of these channels are also being probed and people responsible for the TRP racket are being summoned by police for further investigation in the case, he said.
Speaking to CNN-News18, the Mumbai police commissioner said, "TRP was being manipulated to increase revenue for one channel, while creating losses for another channels and advertisers. We got names of three channels — one is Republic TV and the other two are Marathi channels."
Elaborating on the clues that led to the racket, Singh said that a few days ago, one Hansa agency approached the police and told them about the malpractice of manipulating the ratings. On the basis of the complaint, the investigation was started, he added.
"In our investigation, we found that households were being paid to run Republic channel on their TV sets for money," the commissioner said, adding that people who the police thinks are directly involved in the racket will be called in for questioning.
Singh further told News18: "There was a campaign against us on social media. Some TV channels were also a part of it. Two ex-employees of Hansa have been arrested. They have given us a few names. We have also recovered some money. Two owners of Marathi channels have also been arrested. A total of four people have been held."
Reacting to the development, Republic TV editor-in-chief Arnab Goswani, "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 him."
BARC (Broadcast Audience Research Council) said that it appreciates the efforts of the Mumbai Police and will provide the support asked of it. "As in all our previous cases of suspected panel homes intrusions, BARC India continues to follow its established vigilance and disciplinary guidelines. BARC remains steadfastly true to its purpose to accurately and faithfully report What India Watches," said BARC India spokesperson.
(with inputs from PTI)