Mumbai police commissioner Param Bir Singh on Thursday said it busted a racket to manipulate TRP ratings and said Republic TV is among three channels being investigated for the alleged fraud.
The households were paid about ₹400-500 every month, the police commissioner said. The alleged fraud results in miscalculated target audience for advertisers, the police said. Singh said the findings will be shared with the Union Information and Broadcasting Ministry.
TRP is a tool to judge which TV programmes are viewed the most and also indicates the viewers’ choice and popularity of a particular channel. Singh said that Republic TV were mixing their data to generate ‘fake TRPs’. This involved distorting apparatus by BARC to rate TV channels.
BARC (Broadcast Audience Research Council) used a agency called Hamsa Research Group, which installed meters that tested these ratings.
“There are 2,000 meteres installed in Mumbai. Households where these meteres are installed is confidential info. The scam focuses on how these households were paid to watch certain channels and keep them switched on even when no one was watching,” said Singh.
“If you see the data, poor uneducated households, who don’t speak English were watching only English TV channels,” the police commissioner further said. Republic TV has been facing flak over its attack on Mumbai police and Maharashtra government in the Sushant Singh Rajput death case.
Republic Media Network's Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami's statement pic.twitter.com/axhbJZ47eA
— Republic (@republic) October 8, 2020
Republic TV’s editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami responded soon after, linking the police action to the channel’s coverage of certain events including the police probe into Sushant Singh Rajput’s death and threatened to file a criminal defamation against the police commissioner. “He (Singh) should issue an official apology and get ready to face us in court,” Goswami said.
Congress MP Karti Chidambaram called for a Parliamentary Committee probe in the fake TRP bust made by Mumbai Police against the three channels, including Republic TV.