TRP is a tool to judge which TV programmes are viewed the most and also indicates the viewers’ choice and popularity of a particular channel.
Mumbai police commissioner Param Bir Singh told reporters that a national TV news channel, facing flak over its attack on Mumbai police and Maharashtra government in the Sushant Singh Rajput death case, was involved in the racket.
The Mumbai police crime branch, which unearthed the TRP racket, has arrested owners of two Marathi channels, for manipulating viewership ratings, the official said.
This national news channel is also involved in the TRP racket and persons responsible for this will also be arrested, whether one is director, promoter or any other employee of the channel, the police commissioner said.
The channel, in a statement, rubbished Singh’s claims.
Bank accounts of these channels are also being probed and people responsible for the TRP racket are being summoned by police for further investigation in the case, he said.
“Based on these TRP ratings, advertisers pay to advertise on these channels and it is a game of thousands of crore,” Singh said.
Manipulated TRP ratings result in miscalculated targeted audience for the advertisers, he said, adding this results in losses of hundreds of crores of rupees because of such manipulations and fake statistics of TRPs.
TRP is calculated on the basis of TV channel viewership in a confidential set of households.
Singh said those involved in the racket would bribe people in these households and ask them to keep some channels switched on even when they weren’t watching or not at home.
There are 2,000 barometers installed in Mumbai to monitor TRPs, he said, adding BARC gave contract to an agency called ‘Hansa’ for monitoring these barometers.
The two channel owners arrested were produced in court and Mumbai police have got their custody, he said. The arrests were made under sections 409 and 420 of IPC, he added.
“We suspect that if this was happening in Mumbai then it could be happening in other parts of the country as well,” he added.
BARC is an industry body set up to design, commission, supervise and own an accurate, reliable and timely TV audience measurement system and is guided by recommendations of Telecom Regulatory Authority of India and Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. It helps provide data points to plan media spends more effectively.
Hansa filed a complaint of the TRP racket, following which an offence was registered, he said.
“During the investigation it came to light that some former employees of the agency were involved in compromising the data and they were sharing it with some television companies,” he said.
It was revealed that these persons had manipulated the sampling metering services by inducing the barometer users through periodical payments to watch particular TV channels, he said.
Many people in whose homes these barometers have been installed, have accepted that they were getting monetary benefit for keeping their TV sets on even when they did not watch it, the IPS officer said.
This was apparently done for “wrongful gains” of some TV channels and resulted in losses to advertisers and their agencies, he said.
The statement by the editor-in-chief of the national channel said the Mumbai police chief has made false claims against it as the channel had questioned him in the Sushant Singh Rajput case investigation.
#RepublicFightsBack The Mumbai Police Commissioner has been completely & totally exposed. A copy of the FIR in the TRP case mentions India Today as the channel to be investigated. There isn’t a single mention of Republic TV. Param Bir Singh must, in the interest of morality, quit pic.twitter.com/th6ccyJxlr
— Republic (@republic) October 8, 2020
The channel said it will file a criminal defamation case against Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh. BARC has not mentioned the channel even in a single complaint, it said, adding Singh should issue an official apology and get ready to face the channel in court.
Praveen Nijhara, CEO, Hansa Research, said, “This is with reference to the media reports regarding TRP ratings being manipulated. Hansa Research and BARC conducted an investigation into the matter over the last few weeks, the conclusion of which resulted in Hansa Research filing an FIR against an ex-employee who was engaged in some wrongdoing. Hansa Research has always been vigilant about these issues and has been proactive in informing BARC and the law enforcement agencies as and when such cases have come to our notice. We would continue to cooperate with BARC and with the authorities as and when called upon to do so.”
(With PTI inputs)
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