Republic TV's Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Vikas Khanchandani
Republic TV's Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Vikas Khanchandani

The crime branch of Mumbai Police on Saturday issued summons to Republic TV's Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and two Chief Operating Officers (COO) for questioning in the fake TRP racket case, an official said.

Earlier in the day, Republic TV's Chief Finance Officer Shiva Subramaniyam Sundaram and another official Ghanshyam Singh chose to not appear before the probe team saying that the news channel has approached to Supreme Court.

Now CEO Vikas Khanchandani and COOs Priya Mukharjee and Hersh Bhandari have been asked to remain present before the Crime Intelligence Unit (CIU) of the Mumbai crime branch on Sunday, a senior police officer told PTI.

Two officials of Republic Media Network (Sundaram and Singh) did not comply with the summons, citing a petition filed in the Supreme Court, but there has been no order from the apex court not to investigate the case, the latest summons said.

Since these two persons also mentioned in their reply that the company had advised them not to appear before police, "it is necessary to record your statement in this regard", the summons to the CEO and two others said.

Earlier, Sundaram, the CFO of Arnab Goswami-led Republic Media Network, informed the Mumbai Police that he will not appear before the probe team on Saturday. In a letter to Mumbai Police, he said that a writ petition has been filed in the Supreme Court and early hearing is expected, only after which they will join the investigation subject to the order of the SC.

Mumbai Police had on Friday issued a summons to Sundaram in connection with the Television Rating Points (TRP) manipulation racket it is probing.

While CFO Sundaram did not appear, the police recorded the statement of Madison World and Madison Communications chairman Sam Balsara on Saturday, an official said.

Balsara was at the crime branch office for more than eight hours, he said, adding that statements of accountants of Box Cinema and Fakt Marathi TV were also recorded.

The Crime Intelligence Unit (CIU) of Mumbai Crime Branch is investigating the fake TRP racket.

The Economic Offence Wing (EOW) of Mumbai police has also joined the probe to investigate the revenue aspect of Republic TV in the false TRP scam. DCP, EOW Parag Manere has been roped into the investigation by Mumbai CP.

On Thursday, the police arrested four persons including owners of Fakt Marathi and Box Cinema in the case.

Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh claimed that three channels including Republic TV manipulated the TRP.

The racket came to light when the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC), an organization which measures TRP, filed a complaint in this regard through Hansa Research Group Pvt Ltd, the police said.

(With PTI inputs)

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