Mumbai Police on Thursday said that three television channels including Republic TV are being investigated in a matter related to manipulation of Television Rating Points (TRPs). The two other channels alleged to have distorted the apparatus used by Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) are Fakt Marathi and Box Cinema, Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh said. The TRP is calculated on the basis of TV channel viewership in a confidential set of households.
According to the police, these channels allegedly bribed households to run some channels continuously even when not at home. Rating points are released weekly by the body for TV channels. Other than these TV channels, cops are also questioning BARC officials in the matter.
Nearly 2,000 barometers installed in Mumbai were used to monitor TRPs, Singh said. BARC has given confidential contracts to an agency called 'Hansa' for monitoring these barometers.
Singh said that owners of Marathi channels Fakt Marathi and Box Cinema have been arrested and promoters and directors of Republic TV will be summoned and questioned. Summons will be sent to Republic officials, including Director Arnab Goswami, he added.
"Anyone involved in the channel, no matter how top management, how senior, will be questioned, and if involved they will be investigated," Param Bir Singh said, "There was false TRP spreading. TRP ratings were being bought. The manipulation was mainly for advertising revenues."
The Mumbai Police have shared the findings of the probe with the Information and Broadcasting (I&B) ministry.
The TV advertising market in India is worth more than Rs 30,000 crore. TV channels with high viewership, earn more from advertisements.