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TRP scam: Enforcement Directorate to file chargesheet this month

Republic Media, India Today, News Nation are under the scanner for allegedly rigging TRPs

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MUMBAI: The Mumbai police's unearthing of a ‘fake TRP’ (television rating points) scam last year sent shockwaves through India's media industry, with top TV news channels accusing each other of fudging their ratings. The Mumbai police has alleged that a few media houses bribed households where BARC bar-o-meters were installed to tune into a particular channel throughout the day.

The enforcement directorate (ED) is likely to file its first chargesheet in the matter this month, the Indian Express reported on Monday, quoting unnamed sources. The agency is investigating at least three news channels – Republic Media Network, India Today Group and News Nation – and four entertainment channels for allegedly paying kickbacks to manipulate TRPs, thereby growing advertising revenues.

The scam came to light last year when  BARC lodged a complaint with the Mumbai Police through Hansa Research Group, alleging that certain television channels were rigging TRP numbers. The chargesheet is expected to detail the alleged wrongdoings of former executives of BARC, Hansa Research Group, and four relationship managers who allegedly helped channels manipulate TRPs.

The Mumbai police has so far arrested 15 people in connection with the scam, including former BARC CEO Partho Dasgupta, who, among other alleged wrongdoings, plotted with Republic TV head Arnab Goswami to manipulate TRPs. The arrested people have been charged with cheating, criminal conspiracy, and destruction of evidence. The ED had, in the past, also questioned the chief financial officer (CFO) of India Today Group on the basis of the original complaint filed in the fake TRP case.

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