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ED charge sheet gives clean chit to Republic TV in ‘TRP manipulation scam’, confirms no evidence found against the channel

There was no indication of Republic TV or Republic Bharat engaging in these practices, "either by a statement or by digital data evidence," ED noted.

The Enforcement Directorate has filed a charge sheet before a special court in Mumbai in which it confirmed that no evidence was found against Republic Media Network in the fake TRP case. On Wednesday, Judge MG Deshpande of the special Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) court took cognizance of the charge sheet.

The central agency stated in the charge sheet that the Mumbai police probe into the TRP manipulation scam was “at variance” with the ED’s investigation.

Simultaneously, the ED said that it had discovered evidence that some regional and entertainment channels were involved in manipulating Television Rating Points (TRP) by paying sample or ‘panel’ households.

According to the ED charge sheet, there was a larger conspiracy among channel viewers, agents, and regional managers to influence/induce panel households to watch specific channels for economic benefit. TRP is based on limited statistical data from around 1800 houses in Mumbai and 45000 households across India, according to the report. It is impossible to determine when the manipulation began, but multiple channel owners exploited the system over an extended period of time, read the charge sheet.

According to the report, channels such as Maha Movies, Box Cinema, Fakt Marathi, and others engaged in a criminal conspiracy with Bompalli Mistry, a former top official of the Hansa group, under the guise of a cable reach survey.

Republic TV’s alleged participation in bribing/influencing panel households to watch Republic TV or Republic Bharat channels was thoroughly investigated. The charge sheet stated that it became clear that the Mumbai police probe was ‘at variance’ with the ED investigation.

According to the report, the panel households denied taking money to watch Republic TV or Republic Bharat.

The charge sheet read that the regional managers who admitted to paying household panels to watch particular television channels denied doing the same for Republic TV.

There was no indication of Republic TV or Republic Bharat engaging in these practices, “either by a statement or by digital data evidence,” it noted.

According to the charge sheet, the forensic audit report relied on by Mumbai police was “superficial” and based on a review of “limited aspects.”

Mahesh Bompalli was fully aware of TRP manipulation in relation to networks such as Box Cinema and Fakt Marathi, the ED specified, naming Bompalli and owners of Box Cinema and Fakt Marathi, among others, as accused in the case.

After reports emerged, the media outlet thanked its viewers on Twitter for their unflinching support as it came clean.

Notably, the ED filed an Enforcement Case Information Report (ECIR), which is akin to a police FIR in November 2020. The ECIR came after Mumbai Police filed a First Information Report against Republic TV, two Marathi channels, and a few persons for alleged TRP manipulation.

The TRP scam, in which Republic Media Network was falsely implicated, came to the fore after the rating organisation Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) filed a complaint through Hansa Research Group.

Param Bir Singh reveals allegations against Republic TV in TRP Case were part of a political conspiracy

Recently, the tainted ex-Police Commissioner of Mumbai Param Bir Singh, facing a probe by central agencies in the Antilia bomb scare and Mansukh Hiren murder case, confirmed that the TRP case against Republic Media Network was a hoax and part of a planned conspiracy against Journalist Arnab Goswami. During an interrogation by the Enforcement Directorate (ED), Singh also alleged that ex-Police Officer Sachin Vaze was taking instructions from the then Home Minister Anil Deshmukh in the TRP case along with other cases.

Over time, both Param Bir Singh and Sachin Vaze admitted the MVA government’s complicity in restricting Republic Media Network’s press freedom while unjustly blaming Arnab Goswami and his channel in a fabricated TRP case. It is worth noting that Hansa Research, the original complainant in the TRP case, had previously warned the Bombay High Court that Mumbai police were harassing its officials in order to name Republic in the case. The corporation cited India Today and two other Marathi broadcasters in the original FIR. However, Mumbai police had instead pursued the Republic network.

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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OpIndia Staff
OpIndia Staffhttps://www.opindia.com
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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