Mumbai crime branch of Friday made their sixth arrest in the Television Rating Points (TRP) manipulation racket. The accused identified as Umesh Mishra, 30, was allegedly involved in managing TRP and was found to paying households to watch a particular channel, said the crime branch officer. The crime branch has already arrested five people including owners of two Marathi channel.
According to the police, Mishra (30) a resident of Andheri, is a former employee of Hansa Research Group, a market research company which maintains and fetch viewership data from households on behalf of Broadcast Audience Research Council India (BARC).
The accused left the company around two years ago. However, the investigation revealed that he was involved in the racket and was managing households where barometres were installed to calculate TRP. He was allegedly paying them to watch a particular channel, said the officer. Police were looking for him for the last couple of days. However, he couldn't be traced. Finally on Friday, Bandra unit of the crime branch arrested him from Virar. He will be produced in court on Saturday.
Meanwhile, the four accused, including two owners of Marathi channels and another two ex employees of Hansa, were sent to judicial custody on Friday. The owners of Fakt Marathi and Box Cinema have applied for anticipatory and hearing will be on October 19.
The crime branch on Friday summoned several office bearers of another advertising company who had given advertisements to Republic TV. We are questioning advertisers to understand the importance of TRP for giving advertisements, said a crime branch officer.
Statement of Fakt Marathi's CFO was also recorded on Friday, who said that their only source of income is advertisements, added an officer. The crime branch on Friday received certain documents from Ghanshyam Singh who handles distribution for Republic TV. We are trying to verify the documents with the help of EOW, said crime branch officer.
Last week, Mumbai police unearthed the TRP manipulation racket and alleged the three channels including Republic TV, were involved in manipulating TRPs.