There has been an interesting development in the investigation into the fake TRP scam, even as Mumbai Police continues to hound Republic TV editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami and executives of the channel. According to sources, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) has summoned India Today’s Group CFO for questioning in the case related to fake TRP.
Sources in the know inform OpIndia that the Office of Joint Director has summoned the Group CFO for questioning into the fake TRP case. The Group CFO has been summoned to Mumbai from Delhi in the course of the investigation into the fake TRP scandal and is expected to appear on Monday. OpIndia reached out to India Today’s news director Rahul Kanwal for a comment on the development, however, Mr Kanwal has not responded yet.
This development comes even as the Mumbai Police has continued to allege that it was Republic TV which had indulged in manipulating TRPs, even though the original FIR based on the Hansa Research Report had implicated India Today in the case. It is pertinent to note here that so far, the Mumbai Police has not summoned or investigated India Today in the matter.
ED registers ECIR in TRP case
The Enforcement Directorate had earlier registered an Enforcement Case Information Report (ECIR), the equivalent of FIRs filed by the Police, in the TRP case. The ED is investigating money laundering allegations and it was reported that all channels mentioned in the original FIR would be probed. It was also reported that along with the channels named in the original FIR, which did not have the name of Republic TV, the Mumbai Police probe could also be under scrutiny. The ED is the second central agency to come into the matter after the CBI. The CBI had earlier registered an FIR over the matter.
ED reveals that Mumbai Police have not examined raw data from BARC
In December 2020, ED had already summoned officials from Hansa Research, based on whose FIR the original probe was initiated.
During the time, OpIndia had reported that Hansa Research, while being questioned by the ED, named India Today and not Republic TV. Further, when two BARC officials were summoned, one from their vigilance department and another from the IT department, both attested to the fact that the Mumbai Police had not summoned any raw data from BARC. Raw data here would essentially mean the details of bar-o-meters installed and should have ideally formed the starting point of the investigation. However, it is alleged that this data was not examined by the Mumbai Police at all.
It is interesting to note that while it is alleged that Mumbai Police had not analysed the raw data by BARC, only within the first 48 hours of the FIR being lodged, the Mumbai Police had held a press conference alleging that Republic TV was involved in the TRP scam, when the original FIR and the Hansa Research Report it was based on did not mention Republic TV to begin with.
The TRP Case
On 8th October, Param Bir Singh, Mumbai Police Commissioner, said in a press conference that several channels have indulged in malicious practices to increase their TRP ratings. He alleged that Republic TV is one of the main accused. The complaint was filed by the Hansa group that regulated the devices to record TRP for BARC.
However, the initial FIR did not name Republic TV but named India Today network as one of the main suspects. During the investigation, several evidence and witnesses came forward that alleged Mumbai Police have been intimidating them to speak against Republic TV, including Hansa officials. Hansa has also complained that they are being harassed by the Mumbai Police to give statements against Republic TV.