A day after arresting former COO Romil Ramgarhia of the Broadcast Audience Research Council's (BARC) for his alleged involvement in the TRP rigging case, the crime branch has found crucial leads in his WhatsApp chats. His chats with Republic TV director and CEO Vikas Khanchandani who was previously arrested in the case, allegedly point to how he benefited and received holiday packages for TRP manipulations, the agency said.
Confirming the revelation, API Sachin Vaze said, "From his WhatsApp chats, it is revealed that for the last four years, Romil was receiving financial benefits from Republic, including shopping discounts and holiday packages through Khanchandani".On Thursday, the Criminal Investigation Unit (CIU) team, which is probing the TRP rigging case arrested Romil from his Wadala residence. On Friday, a CIU team went to the BARC headquarters to look into the involvement of Romil's team in the case.
A scrutiny of Romil's WhatsApp chats revealed that he was not in touch with the heads of other television channels, but only with that of Republic Media Network, claimed a crime branch officer. They have already said that Romil was allegedly giving advance information on TRP fluctuations to Republic.
"Our investigations also revealed that Romil and his team were tampering with the TRP-related data of other channels to ensure top ranking for Republic," added Vaze. The crime branch have also found several images had been shared by Romil with Khanchandani. However, these images could not be retrieved, as they had been deleted.
Through his chats, the crime branch has found that on several occasions, Romil had warned Republic about their alleged malpractices but had not disclosed these to his employer BARC, said police. He would also update them regarding the latest software acquired by BARC, said police. He also allegedly passed on inside information, mostly during the time of Republic Bharat's launch, said a crime branch officer.
The crime branch has seized Romil's laptop and has conducted a basic forensic audit.
It has already sent a forensic audit report, which allegedly revealed financial irregularities, to the the Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO) and the Enforcement Directorate, which has registered a case under the PMLA Act.
Romil, who left the BARC after a six-year stint, was arrested on Thursday, after it was revealed that he was in touch with Khanchandani. He is the first person from the organisation to be arrested and the 14th, so far in the case.
In the second week of October, Mumbai Police had unearthed the TRP rigging case and claimed that several channels had indulged in TRP manipulations and named Republic TV, Fakt Marathi, Box Cinema and other news channels for allegedly doing so.
In the alleged malpractice, former relationship managers at Hansa Research, a market research company hired by BARC, were paid to rig the TRPs, manipulate the sampling metering services by inducing bar-o-meter households to watch particular TV channels and pay them periodically. Households were paid Rs 400-500 monthly, to watch a particular channel. There are 2,000 bar-o-meters installed in Mumbai to monitor TRPs.ReplyForward