TRP Scam: Mumbai Police Summons Republic TV CFO on 10 October
S Sundaram has been summoned at 11 am on Saturday, 10 October.
The Mumbai Police crime branch has summoned the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of Republic TV, S Sundaram, in connection with the rigged TRPs case. S Sundaram has been summoned at 11 am on Saturday, 10 October.
Apart from Republic TV, sources in the Mumbai Police revealed that senior officials of some advertising agencies have also been summoned. Those summoned include Shashi Sinha from Lintas and Sam Balsara from Madison communications.
The Mumbai Police on Thursday had addressed a press conference and said that it has busted a "TRP scam", whereby Television Rating Points (TRPs) were being manipulated. In the briefing, the Mumbai Police Commissioner Parambir Singh said that ratings by the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC), an organisation under the Ministry of Information and Broadcast (I&B), which measures television ratings in India, has been manipulated.
The police named Republic TV and two other Marathi channels who it said were involved in the practice. Four people have been arrested in connection with the matter.
Main Accused Implicates Republic TV
Sources revealed that the Mumbai Police received a tip off on 5 October, on the first accused in the case, Vishal Bhandari, being involved in bribing individual households to watch specific channels.
During interrogation, Bhandari, who worked as a relationship manager for Hansa agency, allegedly revealed that he had resigned from the agency in June 2020.
Police sources claimed that while being interrogated, Vishal Bhandari accepted that he used to pay people to watch certain channels, including Republic TV. Bhandari was the relationship manager of 83 households.
Mumbai Police sought information regarding these 83 households from BARC to observe if there were any suspicious TRP trends.
BARC shared a list of 10 suspicious households out of these 83, where BARC noticed that there was a suspicious fluctuation of TRPs of channels and these channels were Republic TV, Box Cinema and Fakt Marathi.
When questioned, sources allegedly revealed that a majority of the 10 households accepted that they received money to watch Republic TV. These households also reportedly admitted that Vishal Bhandari paid them to watch Republic TV whether they liked the channel or not.
Bhandari allegedly paid each household anywhere between Rs 400-500 to watch a specific channel.
Another name that allegedly cropped up while interrogating Bhandari is ‘Rocky’. Bhandari allegedly told Mumbai Police that an individual named Rocky approached him and asked him to offer money to households to get them to watch Republic TV.
Mumbai Police are still on the lookout for the individual.
Four accused have been arrested in the case so far, these include, Vishal Bhandari, Bompalli Rao Mistry aka Sanju Rao, Shirish Shetty and Narayan Sharma.
While Republic TV has not been mentioned in the Mumbai police FIR, but as the case proceeds, if any implicating evidence is found against the channel, its name could be mentioned in the subsequent chargesheet.
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