The Crime Branch of Mumbai grilled Vikas Khanchandani the chief executive of Republic TV in the TRP rigging case. The source of the crime branch told Afternoon Voice that the CEO of Republic was not cooperating with cops. Police said there will be no mercy shown to the culprits. efficient offices of the crime branch are investigating the case.
The channel’s CFO Shiva Subramaniyam Sundaram was also summoned but he asked that it be rescheduled. The owners of two TV channels — Fakt Marathi and Box Cinema — are among the four people arrested in the case. Sundaram has said the channel had filed a petition with the Supreme Court challenging the police summons, which is likely to be listed soon. In a statement on Saturday, he requested the police “not to proceed with any further investigation in so far as Republic TV and its employees are concerned”.
Data indicated that the three channels were tweaking ratings to get high advertising rates, a procedure that amounts to fraud. Around 20,000 households are monitored by Hansa — an agency that placed the rating metres — and it emerged that a section of them were being bribed to run the specific channels concerned, the police said. Each family was receiving ₹ 400 to ₹ 500 a month. That data was being manipulated became clear when it emerged that non-English speaking poor households were watching English news channels. It was Hansa that filed a complaint and the investigation started thereafter, the police said.
Investigations into the television rating points (TRP) manipulation scam have shown that one of the four arrested accused, Bomapallirao Mistry, had in the last one year received a total of more than Rs 1 crore in his bank account from four-five people, the Mumbai police said.
Mistry (45), who has had no steady source of income for the past 1.5 years, through his aides paid households to watch three TV channels, police said. They have seized Rs 8.5 lakh found in Mistry’s bank locker and have also frozen his bank account, which, they say, had a balance of Rs 20 lakh. “We found that since November last year, more than Rs 1 crore came into his account. These transfers happened after a gap of every two months and each time an amount ranging from Rs 20 lakh to Rs 25 lakh was deposited. We have noticed five to six such money transfers in his account,” said a crime branch officer.
‘Forensic audit of transactions by 3 channels’, there are allegations that the arrested accused paid money to households, where people meters were installed, to watch these channels to increase their TRPs Mistry, a Versova resident, was responsible for distributing money to his protégé and another arrested accused, Vishal Bhandari, a former Hansa Research Group employee, a police officer said.
“Money came from four to five people. We are now probing them to ascertain why they transferred money to Mistry,” said the officer.