The enforcement directorate has given a clean chit to news channels Republic TV and R Bharat in a case related to the manipulation of television rating points, or TRPs. The central agency said in its chargesheet that it found no evidence against the channels, Indian Express reported.
The “scam” dates back to 2020, when the Mumbai police alleged that some media houses were bribing homeowners to “rig” ratings. The police named Republic TV as one of the biggest names involved in the scam; India Today was also named in its FIR.
But the ED said the police’s investigation was “at variance with the probe done by the ED”. It claimed the forensic report that the police was relying on was “superficial” and “based on analysis of limited aspects”.
The ED had reportedly filed its chargesheet last week at a special Prevention of Money Laundering Act court. It named 16 accused, including directors of Marathi entertainment channels Box Cinema, Fakt Marathi and Maha Movies, as well as several relationship managers associated with the Hansa Research Group, which measured TRPs for the Broadcast Audience Research Council.
Importantly, the chargesheet did not mention ARG Outlier Media, which owns Republic TV and R Bharat, or the channel’s editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami, or officials from BARC.
The ED also said that an analysis of raw data from households, which were allegedly watching Republic channels, “showed that these households were watching channels other than Republic TV and R Bharat”.
However, the ED did acknowledge instances of TRP manipulation. It said it had come across “leads that certain households were watching News Nation and India Today in lieu of cash from RMs” and a “further investigation is in progress”. It also alleged a “wider conspiracy between channel viewers, agents and RMs to influence/induce the panel households to watch certain channels for monetary gains. The malice seems to be deeper as indicated by several FIRs lodged by BARC in various states”.
Newslaundry reported in depth on the TRP scam when it first broke. This included a deep dive into a supplementary chargesheet filed by the Mumbai police on purported WhatsApp conversations between Arnab Goswami and then BARC CEO Partho Dasgupta. Read our series here.
Also read our report on the Mumbai police’s case against Republic and why India Today was mentioned too.
For background on what the scam is, watch the video below.
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