Witnesses have reportedly told a magistrate that they were paid directly by two TV channels to keep them running for a fixed duration, officials probing the Television Rating Points (TRP) manipulation case said.
In their statment to a magistrate, three of them named Arnab Goswami-led Republic TV while one witness claimed payment from Box Cinema. The third TV channel being investigated by Mumbai Police in the TRP fraud case is Fakt Marathi.
Mumbai Police has registered a case in the TRP scam and summoned Republic TV's chief financial officer S Sundaram for investigation.
Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh had claimed that three channels including Republic TV manipulated the TRP.
The racket came to light when BARC, an organization which measures TRP, filed a complaint in this regard through Hansa Research Group Pvt Ltd, the police had said.
At least five people have been arrested by the city police which busted the scam earlier this month.
Earlier on Thursday, the Supreme Court Thursday refused to entertain a plea by the Republic Media Group seeking to quash the summons issued by Mumbai Police in connection with the case and asked it to approach the Bombay High Court.
The plea in the apex court was filed by Arg Outlier Media Private Limited, which owns the Republic Media network, seeking quashing of the summons issued by the police.
Mumbai Police had earlier filed an affidavit in the top court seeking dismissal of the plea filed by Republic Media group contending that investigation into an alleged crime cannot be urged as a ground for violation of Article 19(1)(a).
"Article 19(1)(a) cannot be invoked by the petitioners to side step, thwart and prevent any investigation by the competent investigating agency into alleged fudging of TRP ratings. The right under Article 19(1)(a) is not a shield which can be used against any a commission of crime under the extant criminal law of the land," it said.
The police submitted that the allegations contained in the impugned FIR registered by it make out any offence cannot be decided at this stage.
"The investigation is still progressing in respect of FIR No. 143 of an a 2020. There is no exceptional circumstance whatsoever warranting any interference by this Court under Article 32 of the Constitution," the police said.
Amid probe, the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) on Thursday announced a temporary suspension of weekly ratings of news channels across languages.