Indian Media’s ‘Open Secret’, the TRP Scam Has Happened Before

Here are the TRP scams of the past.

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The Mumbai Police on Thursday 8 October, named three channels, including Republic TV, in a 'TRP Scam' in which these channels were allegedly trying to manipulate viewership ratings.

Four people have been arrested by the police so far in relation to the scam, which is being widely talked about in the media circles and outside. But this is not the first time that such viewership manipulations have been reported in the Indian media. Here are a few incidents in the past.


TAM Media-NDTV Law Suit

In 2012, New Delhi Television (NDTV) filed a law suit in New York against Nielsen Holdings and its affiliate companies for over $1.3 billion in damages.

The suit claimed that Nielsen, a global research firm, had fudged television viewership data and contended that Nielsen’s refusal to invest in its Indian arm, TAM Media Research, led to corruption that in turn led to manipulation of viewership data in favour of some television channels.

This kind of manipulation had caused a loss of revenue for NDTV, the channel claimed.

Following this, TAM made way for the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) as the official ratings provider.


Three Channels Fined By BARC In 2016

Three television channels were penalised by BARC in 2016 for trying to manipulate television data. These channels were Hindi news channel India News and Telugu channels TV9 Telugu and V6 News.

BARC had said that it will not publish ratings data for these three channels for four weeks.

It is learnt that these channels too, like in the case of the recent allegations by Mumbai Police, were trying to manipulate viewership meters in households.


Hansa Research Involved Earlier As Well

In 2018, a man called Mahesh Kushwah, an employee of Hansa Research, which has now filed a complaint with the Mumbai Police, was accused of leaking details of the sample households in the BARC surveys to a former employee of the company, Vinod Kulshresth. This manipulation was also allegedly done on behalf of India News.


India Today, Others Pulled Out Of BARC In 2018 Over Inaction On Republic ‘Fudging Numbers’

In 2017, India Today announced that they and some other "prominent news channels" had decided to pull out of BARC after it ignored the News Broadcasters' Association's (NBA) request to not to release the viewership ratings of then newly-launched Republic TV.

The News Broadcasters Association had then approached the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) against Arnab Goswami's Republic TV for allegedly using "unethical tactics to claim a high viewership."


TV Producer, 4 Others Held In Bengaluru For Fudging Viewership Data In 2018

In 2018, the Bengaluru Crime Branch arrested a TV serial producer and four others who fudged TRPs, following a complaint by BARC.

In this case, the accused had created artificial TRP ratings.

The gang would allegedly bring multiple television sets where it had located the TRP machine and would change the channels to hike the TRP of any programme or channel.

(With inputs from India Today, Mumbai Mirror, The Mint, Economic Times)

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Topics:  TRP Scam 

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