Crime branch arrest fifth accused in TRP manipulation case

Mumbai: The Mumbai crime branch investigating an alleged Television Rating Point (TRP) manipulation racket has made another arrest in the case, taking the total number of accused arrested in scam so far to five. The accused identified as Vinay Tripathi (30) an ex-employee of Hansa was allegedly giving money to accused Vishal Bhandari. A crime branch team went to Uttar Pradesh to arrest Tripathi. He was arrested from Mirzapur, said police.

On Monday, the crime branch recorded statements of Praveen Nijhara, CEO of Hansa Research Private Limited and its deputy manager Nitin Deokar. The police have asked them to submit some documents. Hansa Research Group – a market research company hired by Broadcast Audience Research Council India (BARC) to maintain and fetch viewership data from barometers installed at homes.

Republic Media Network's CFO, Shiva Sundram who earlier did not appear before the crime branch citing a petition filed in the Supreme Court informed the crime branch that he is coming to Mumbai on Tuesday. He is likely to come to the crime branch office late on Tuesday evening to record his statement. He further said that he is ready to co-operate, but could not come earlier as three members in his family were tested Covid-19 positive.

The Mumbai police on Monday, froze the bank accounts of two Marathi channels and of their owners. It also started a tender process to appoint forensic auditors in the case who will delve deep into the financial dealings of the channels as their transactions run into a few hundred crores.

Last week, the Mumbai police alleged that Arnab Goswami led-Republic TV and two Marathi channels Fakt Marathi and Box Cinema indulged in manipulation of TRPs. The police arrested two former employees of Hansa and the owners of Marathi channels Fakt Marathi and Box Cinema for their alleged involvement in the malpractices.

As per the police, the accused were involved in a racket of manipulating the sampling metering services, by inducing the barometer users to watch particular TV channels, by paying them periodically. The households were paid Rs 400-500 monthly, to watch a particular channel. There are 2,000 barometers installed in Mumbai to monitor TRPs.

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