The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Tuesday took over the probe into alleged manipulation of Television Rating Points (TRP) after registering an FIR in the case. The central agency took over the probe from Lucknow police on the recommendation of Uttar Pradesh government.
A case was registered in Lucknow’s Hazratganj police station on the complaint of a person named Kamal Sharma, the CIO of Golden Rabbit company, which was transferred to the CBI. The FIR has been registered against unidentified people.
The FIR has been registered under IPC sections 120(B) (Punishment of criminal conspiracy), 34 (Acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention), 406 (Punishment for criminal breach of trust), 408 (Punishment for criminal breach of trust by clerk), 409 (criminal breach of trust in respect of that property), 420 (Cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property), 463 (Forgery), 465 (Punishment for forgery), 486 (Selling goods marked with a counterfeit property mark). The charges include manipulating the TRPs using forged means.
The FIR said that since BARC, which commenced its operation in 2015, remains the sole provider of TRP ratings in India, it becomes imperative for the organisation to be credible and transparent. It read that if BARC functioned partially by tweaking the data pertaining to TRP as a result of a conspiracy to favour certain channels, there can be serious repurcussions as productions of programs, advertisement placings and several other decisions are taken on the basis of the BARC rating in India. It would also provide wrong, illicit financial gains to the channels in whose favour these TRP manupalations would be done.
Saying so, the complainant said that information has been revealed that certain unknown accused, including certain channels and broadcasting companies with the aid and assistance of certain unknown accused, have tempered and manipulated TRPs to gain wrongfully. Information revealed that the unknown accused have deliberately and with a common intention in furtherance of a conspiracy not only manipulated but also leaked the identity of such households. The identities of the households where BARC’s TRP meters are placed should be kept confidential.
Multiple entities have conspired to tweak the TRPs and gain wrongfully from advertisers: FIR
It furthered that such deep-rooted conspiracies cannot be the work of an individual. On the contrary, there are several unknown accused who have come together with a common intention to manipulate TRPs and have conspired with other accuused to achieve such an objective and gain wrongfully, said the FIR.
It furthered that owing to this false representations, the advertisers are deceived and tricked into advertising in these channels, paying the advertisement charges, which otherwise it would have never paid, if the true TRP ratings of these channels were revealed. It said that since the channels charge advertisement charges in proportion to the TRP ratings (which means the higher the TRP, the greater would be the charges for advertisement), the offence would tantamount to a criminal breach of trust.
It also furthered that the information of where the meters are installed is also confidential and the information regarding the same is entrusted on the person installing the same. This person is not supposed to divulge the confidential information, failing which would amount to a violation of the contract of secrecy and this would too, be equivalent to committing of the offence of criminal breach of trust.
As per reports, the UP Government had sought a CBI inquiry into the matter since it is a matter that spans across states.
It is pertinent to note here that the alleged scam came to the fore after Mumbai PC Param Bir Singh publically castigated Republic TV of being one of the accused in the scam. But, in less than 24 hours, the Mumbai police’ lies was busted and it was revealed that it was not Republic TV but India Today whose name had propped up in the first FIR registered in connection with the matter. Recently, even the Maharashtra government had admitted in the Bombay High Court that that Republic is not named in the FIR in the TRP case. Republic TV’s Arnab Goswami has declared that they will initiate defamation proceedings against Mumbai Police chief Parambir Singh, suing him for damages worth Rs 200 crores.