The Crime Branch of the Mumbai Police investigating the alleged Television Rating Point (TRP) scam presented a 1400-page charge sheet in the magistrate court on Tuesday. It named 12 accused, including Republic TV’s distribution head Ghanshyam Sharma. The charge sheet has given witness to 140 people including auditors and forensic experts. Two accused have also been petitioned to make government witnesses. Police say the supplementary charge sheet will be presented after further investigation.
The alleged TRP scam came to light last month when the rating agency ‘Broadcast Audience Research Council’ (BARC) had lodged a complaint through Hansa Research Group that some television channels were manipulating the ratings data.
The channels get advertisements based on TRP only. Mumbai Police Commissioner Parambir Singh claimed last month that Republic TV and two Marathi channels — Box Cinema and Fakt Marathi — were manipulating TRP figures. However, Republic TV and other channels denied the allegations.
The police said the owners of the accused channels were absconding and in the charge sheet, the police have imposed sections 409, 420, 465, 468, 406, 120B, 201, 204, 212 and 34 against the accused. So far 12 accused have been arrested in this case, including Republic TV’s distribution head Ghanshyam Sharma. Police have alleged to have obtained fake TRP by paying money against Republic TV, News Nation, Fakt Marathi, Box Cinema and Vau channels. The operators and owners of these channels are also accused of absconding.
Police claim that many of the arrested accused were in contact with the officials of the channels and the people in whose houses TRP meters are installed. The accused have confessed to watching the same channel by taking money from the channels. Evidence has also been found from phones, laptops and bank accounts.
Republic TV’s COO deleted the chat with Arnab, an official said Priya Mukherjee, COO of Republic TV, is not cooperating in the investigation. She did not bring her mobile whenever she was called for questioning. Apart from this, he also deleted the chat with Arnab. An attempt will be made to get this chat. At present, Mukherjee has applied for anticipatory bail in the Karnataka High Court to avoid arrest, but the police are calling him an absconding accused.
Police on Tuesday summoned Vau channel owner Jayantilal Gada and his son Akshay for questioning, but both did not appear. Gada also owns the film production company Penn India Limited.