After India Today lost its mental balance following Mumbai police accusing Republic TV of indulging in manipulating viewership data, it has been revealed that the complained filed by BARC had actually named India Today TV for the crime, not Republic TV. The FIR filed in the case has been accessed by Republic TV, which shows that India Today was named in the FIR, not Republic TV as alleged by Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh. The FIR names India Today several times, but the police commissioner chose to allege that Republic TV has been named, which is not true.
The FIR alleging manipulation of Bar-o-meters installed by BARC was filed by Hansa Research Group Private Limited, the company responsible for installing and maintaining the Bar-O-Meter of the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC). Following the complaint, Relationship Manager of the company Vishal Bhandari was arrested by Mumbai police. During the investigation, revealed that India Today and other channels instigated him and offered money to households with the meters to keep their TV tuned to those channels.
Moreover, he revealed that a person named Vinay asked Bhandari in November 2019 to approach 5 homes and ask them to watch India Today daily for 2 hours. The FIR filed in the case reads “Today on 6lh October 2020, Assistant Police Inspector, Mr. Kazi, has informed me that, Basis on the secret information received, they arrested Vishal Ved Bhandari, House no.6, Kashinath Khandu Bhandari Chawl, BMC Quarters, Chincholi, N B Road, Malad (W), Mumbai 400097, During the inquiry, he informed that he is working with Hansa Research Group Private Limited as a Relationship Manager, he also informed that to increase the TRP of India Today and several other channels, he used to instigate and offer money to panel homes, where BAR-o-Meter installed with the help of other several people. They asked me to visit their office for more understanding.”
The FIR further states in November 2019, Vishal had received a call from an unknown person named Mr Vinay. Vinay asked him to approach 5 panel homes in Mumbai to ask them to watch the India Today channel daily for 2 hours. Later Vinay met Vishal and gave him Rs 1000 to distribute among the 5 panel homes, and also game Rs 5000 as a commission for the act. Accordingly, Vishal did the malpractice for 7 months from November 2019 to May 2020. He approached the 5 panel homes, asked them to watch the channel for 2 hours daily.
According the statement given by Vishal Bhandari, the audit team had visited one of the panel homes, and the household had confirmed that they were paid to watch the India Today for minimum 2 hours per day.
After the press conference by Param Bir Singh, Republic TV had said that the complaint didn’t name them, and had said that will file a defamation case against the Mumbai Police Commissioner for taking the channel’s name. Now this FIR in the case supports the stand of Republic TV, implying that the police commissioner was lying in the press conference.