The Special Investigation Team (SIT) probing the alleged Television Rating Points (TRP) rigging case has received an interim forensic audit report on Monday.
SIT officers alleged that the 800-page report points to various financial irregularities of the accused channels, including Republic TV. The Mumbai police on Sunday arrested Republic TV's CEO Vikas Khanchandani.
The report allegedly concluded that the viewership and TRP of Republic Bharat were very high from the very first months since it was launched. The increased TRP had resulted in giving power to ARG Outlier Media to bargain for higher revenues, the report allegedly concludes. ARG Outlier Media is the company that owns Republic TV and Republic Bharat.
The officers alleged that ARG had also valued its share at an exponentially high premium by projecting high revenues for future years. The forensic audit report also allegedly found, "The CCPS (compulsory convertible preference shares) of the face value of Rs 10 each were valued at a premium of Rs 12,990 each in 2016 before the launch of the channel, Rs 32,813 each in November 2018 and Rs 36,560 each in December 2019."
According to officers, the report will be submitted as part of a supplementary chargesheet. The police officers claimed that as per the report, "ARG also indulged in artificially increasing its share value and collecting investments and routing some of these funds in purchasing its own shares through its parent company at 300% higher value. As per the report, there were certain funds received against the share capital money were routed through its director, namely Arnab Goswami's personal account, which were in turn used in paying off one of the directors of SARG Media Holding Pvt Ltd, namely Ajay Garg, who subsequently resigned from the directorship."
Despite attempts seeking a response on the allegations levelled by the police, no comment was available from Republic Media.
The crime branch which is probing the TRP case said that the findings of the forensic report are very crucial and supporting evidence to their case.
The crime branch on Monday recorded the statements of four cable operators who had been issued notices by TRI for allegedly manipulating LCN in order to get more viewership for the accused channels.