Former BARC CEO mastermind of TRP scam: Mumbai Police

The City Crime branch on Monday filed a supplementary charge sheet in the alleged Television Ratting Points (TRP) manipulation case. In the 3,600-page charge sheet, the crime branch called the former CEO of Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) Partho Dasgupta to be the mastermind of the TRP manipulation case who allegedly received kickbacks for rigging TRP of Republic TV, they also suspect him to manipulate TRPs of several other channels as well.

The supplementary charge sheet was filed against the last three arrested accused namely Dasgupta, former BARC's COO Romil Ramgariha and Republic TV's CEO Vikas Khanchandani. The crime branch had already filed a 1,400-page charge sheet against first 12 accused on November 11. The police also clarified that the investigation will be continued in the case under section 173 (8) of Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC).

In the charge sheet, the crime branch claimed that Dasgupta and Ramgarhia were allegedly manipulating the TRP and the same was established in the internal audit conducted by BARC itself. They have also said that they have found WhatsApp chats between top officials of Republic TV in which they were allegedly discussing about TRP manipulations. The BARC's forensic report was also attached in the supplementary charge sheet.

Last week, the Mumbai Police had informed the Bombay High Court that they have found evidences against Republic TV's editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami. However, in the supplementary charge sheet, they did not mention Goswami as a wanted accused in the case. However, several top office bearers of ARG Outlier Media which runs Republic Media Network had been named as suspected accused which includes Priya Mukharjee, Shiva Sunderam, Shivendru Mullherkar, Ranjit Walter While Amit Dave and Sanjeev Verma of Maha Movies channel and one Rocky have been shown as wanted accused in the chargesheet.

"During the investigation it was revealed that Dasgupta was allegedly manipulating TRPs of around 12-13 general entertainment channels and that of at least three sports channels," said API Sachin Vaze of the Criminal Intelligence Unit (CIU) which is investigating the case. The role of two regional channels from South is also under the scanner.

The 3,600-page supplementary charge sheet includes statements of 59 witnesses and statements of 12 experts which include forensic experts, computer experts and forensic auditors. They have also seized valuables worth Rs 50 lakh of gold and silver jewellery, expensive watches and gadgets so far.

Meanwhile, the sessions court on Monday refused to grant interim bail to Dasgupta who was currently in judicial custody after he was arrested on December 24.

The TRP rigging case came to light in October last year when Mumbai police arrested former relationship managers of a market research company along with owners of two TV channels. Mumbai police then claimed that several channels had been indulged in TRP rigging by bribing the households where TRP measuring devices have been installed.

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