The ‘fake TRP scam’ has taken a remarkable turn in less than 24 hours. On the 8th of October, Mumbai Police Commissioner Parambir Singh held a press conference where he thundered away against Republic TV and Arnab Goswami, claiming, that the channel had illegally paid some households to keep some channels on even if they were not at home to boost their TRP. However, by the end of the day, it was revealed that in the original FIR, Republic TV did not find a mention anywhere. In fact, it was India Today that had been named in the original FIR.
While earlier, India Today had gone into a celebratory mode and gone hammer and tongs against Arnab Goswami after the press conference by Parambir Singh, the revelation that the original FIR mentioned India Today, and not Republic TV seemed to dampen the mood a bit.
After recovering from the initial shock, Rajdeep Sardesai tried to salvage the situation a little. Rajdeep took to his channel to question the Joint Commissioner of Police. He asked “an attempt has been made to suggest that India Today was mentioned in the FIR” and then, went on to demand clarity to exonerate himself and implicate Republic TV.
The Joint Commissioner, however, interestingly admitted that it was indeed India Today that was named in the FIR. This revelation itself leads the Mumbai Police to tie itself up in knots, since once this admission is out in the open, not much else makes sense.
In a statement that is now being touted by India Today to exonerate themselves and implicate Republic TV, Mumbai commissioner Parambir Singh has said that there is only one FIR that is dated October 6th and in that FIR, India Today was indeed named by one of the witnesses. But, as the probe progressed, neither BARC nor any of the witnesses nor accused named India Today. According to Singh, all of them named Republic TV and the two Marathi channels. Therefore, “as of now, there is no evidence against India Today. We are proceeding against Republic TV and Marathi channels”.
Since last night, India Today has constantly touted this statement to claim its own innocence and target Republic TV.
Mumbai Police has said that it found no evidence against India Today in the TRP manipulation racket.@sardesairajdeep talks exclusively to joint commissioner of Mumbai police Milind Bharambe.#ITVideo pic.twitter.com/0htrBsXlpI— IndiaToday (@IndiaToday) October 9, 2020
However, the desperation of India Today aside, the statement by Mumbai Police Commissioner has raised far more questions than it has answered.
It is to be kept in mind that the FIR was filed on the 6th of October 2020. Interestingly, in less than 24 hours of the FIR being filed, on the 7th of October, the Mumbai Police sent a notice to BARC to seek the viewership data of Republic TV.
Let us recap what that means. While the original FIR filed on 6th October named India Today, and this has been admitted by the Mumbai Police Commissioner himself, in less than 24 hours, the Mumbai Police interestingly sends a notice to BARC to gather viewership data of Republic TV and not India Today.
Then, in another day, on the 8th of October, Mumbai Police Commissioner concludes his investigations enough to come on national television, hold a press conference, and name Republic TV specifically in being involved in the TRP scam.
Therefore, if one is to believe the Mumbai Police, an FIR was filed on the 6th October and without conducting any investigation into India Today itself, they sent a notice to BARC to get the ratings of Republic TV on the 7th and on the 8th, were convinced enough to hold a press conference implicating Republic TV.
Interestingly, in the entire 3-day span that the Mumbai Police had before going on national TV, there is no evidence of any letter to BARC to get India Today viewership details or investigate them. From the 6th of October to the 8th of October, while the FIR itself named India Today, it is Republic TV that is now mysteriously facing the ire of the Mumbai Police.
Further, there is another clinching fact that puts the Mumbai Police in a terrible spot. The main witness in the case, Tejal Solanki specifically named India Today even on the 8th when she spoke to a Republic TV reporter. That conversation can be heard here.
In the audio, Tejal Solanki clearly mentions that her son was approached to watch India Today in order to increase their TRP.
Hence, the claim of the Commissioner, Parambir Singh, that no witness has named India Today does not add up at all. In fact, if the FIR was against India Today, claiming that no witness has named India Today itself does not make sense since the FIR must have been filed with India Today’s name in only after someone would have named the channel directly.
It is thus evident that with this statement issued by Parambir Singh and touted by India Today, the two entities seem to have tied themselves up in knots even further leaving people with several unanswered questions and many, many doubts.
While Mumbai Police names Republic TV, FIR filed in the case names India Today
Today Mumbai police made some sensational claims against some TV channels saying that they were manipulating TRP ratings. In a press conference held on the 8th of October, Mumbai Police commissioner Param Bir Singh had said that three TV channels, including Republic TV, were involved in manipulating viewership data of BARC by paying those households where Bar-o-meters, the devices that track TV viewership, are installed.
Param Bir Singh had said that two persons have been arrested in connection with the ‘fraud’, one of them used to work for an agency that worked with BARC. He said that they had obtained data of households with the meters installed, and sold this data to the TV channels, who then used this data to influence the TV viewership of those households.
The Police commissioner said that the arrested persons had admitted that Republic TV and two other Marathi Channels were involved in the scam, and the owners of Fakt Marathi and Box Cinema channels have been arrested.
However, the FIR was then accessed by Republic TV and also by OpIndia that revealed that Republic TV was not mentioned in the FIR anywhere. In fact, it was India Today that was mentioned in the FIR along with some other channels that were not explicitly named.
Arnab issues a statement: You are scared of the truth coming out, he says to Mumbai Police Commissioner, Parambir Singh
After the press conference by Mumbai Police Commissioner Parambir Singh, Arnab Goswami of Republic TV issued the following statement:
“Mumbai police commissioner Param Bir Singh has made false allegations against republic tv because we have questioned him in the Sushant Singh Rajput case investigation. Republic tv will file a criminal defamation case against Mumbai Police commissioner Param Bir Singh. There is not a single BARC report that mentions Republic TV. The people of India know the truth. Mr Param Bir Singh’s investigation in the Sushant Singh Rajput case is under a cloud and this is a desperate measure because of Republic TV’s reportage on Palghar, the Sushant Singh Rajput case or any other case. This kind of targeting only strengthens the resolve of everyone at Republic TV to push for the truth even harder. Param Bir Singh stands completely exposed today since BARC has not mentioned Republic in any single complaint. He should issue an official apology and get ready to face us in court.”