While Mumbai police continue its witchhunt against Republic TV and the channel’s editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami in the alleged fake TRP scam, the Enforcement Directorate has once again summoned India Today Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Dinesh Bhatia and Distribution Head KR Arora for questioning in the case. Prior to this, the Office of Joint Director had summoned the Group CFO on January 8, 2021.
Sources known to the case informed OpIndia that both members of India Today’s top management have been facing intense questioning by the agency since Monday morning.
The original FIR in the fake TRP case was filed against India Today with the allegation that the Network was paying households to manipulate TRPs.
This development comes even as the Mumbai Police has continuously been trying to implicate Republic TV in the TRP scam, even though the original FIR based on the Hansa Research Report had implicated India Today in the case.
Recently, the family of arrested former BARC CEO Partho Dasgupta had revealed that that the Mumbai Police was paying someone inside Taloja Jail to torture him mentally and physically to implicate Arnab Goswami and Republic TV in the TRP scam. The Mumbai police have accused Partho Dasgupta of taking money from Arnab Goswami to rig TRP in the favour of Republic TV.
ED registers ECIR in TRP scam
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.
Since the ED filed its ECIR in the case, it has been making swift headway in the fake TRP manipulation case. Thus far, the ED has also questioned members of the BARC management which has been under its lens in the context of TRP manipulation.
The fake TV viewership row
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.