The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has summoned India Today’s Group CFO for questioning in connection with the alleged Television Rating Points (TRP) manipulation racket.
"He has been asked to appear in Mumbai," confirmed a senior ED officer.
The ED’s Enforcement Case Information Report (ECIR) is based on the case filed by Mumbai Police. An ECIR is the equivalent of a police First Information Report (FIR).
On October 8, Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh claimed to have unearthed the alleged case of TRP manipulation and the alleged involvement of several channels. He had also set up a special investigation team (SIT) to probe the case.
During the investigation, several other channels came under the police radar. Until now, police have arrested several persons, including the owners of the Fakt Marathi and Box Cinema channels, the distribution head of Republic TV and several former relationship managers of a market research company, Hansa Research Group, hired by the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) to maintain and fetch viewership data from bar-o-meters installed at homes.
According to police, relationship managers were paid to rig the TRPs, manipulating the sampling metering services by inducing the bar-o-meter users to watch particular TV channels and paying them periodically. The households were paid Rs 400-500 monthly, to watch a particular channel. There are 2,000 bar-o-meters installed in Mumbai.
The BARC is an organisation under the governance of the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting (MIB) and the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI). It has installed approximately 30,000 bar-o-meters in various parts of India, which monitor various programmes and based on the statistical metrics, it awards ratings to various television channels. Based on these ratings, advertisers pay to advertise. Manipulated TRPs result in miscalculated targeted audiences for advertisers.
India Today group is yet to react to the summons.