Former BARC CEO, COO aided Republic TV in rigging TRPs: Police chargesheet

Vikas Khanchandani, Priya Mukherjee carried out transactions to ensure more viewers watch Republic

NEW DELHI: In the supplementary chargesheet filed in the alleged TRP manipulation case, the Mumbai police has once again reiterated that former BARC CEO Partho Dasgupta was the mastermind behind the whole scam. He allegedly used his position to aid ARG Outlier (Republic TV) in gaming viewership ratings. 

The chargesheet further states that ARG Outlier Media CEO Vikas Khanchandani, along with COO Priya Mukherjee, carried out transactions in order to ensure that more viewers watch their channels. Their WhatsApp group chats, reportedly, support this allegation. 

It also mentions that former BARC COO Romil Ramgarhia also aided Republic channels in manipulating the TRPs. Ramgarhia allegedly conducted internal inquiries into BARC through an independent company 'Acquisitory Risk Consulting Pvt Ltd' which gave him and his co-accused insight into the working of TRP calculation. The investigation also cites emails found in Ramgarhia’s work account which discussed how the BARC data is aiding Republic channels through rigged ratings.

The chargesheet also called out Republic TV for flouting TRAI regulations by paying cable operators and MSOs for using the 'dual/promotional local channel number' to telecast their news channels on more than one channel.

Along with these three charges, the supplementary chargesheet names 59 witnesses, which includes 12 expert witnesses (forensic auditors, computer forensics auditors).

The Mumbai police has reportedly also found some evidence against general entertainment channels and two Telugu regional channels as well, which they will be investigating further.

The crime branch filed its first charge sheet in November 2020 which included details of the first twelve accused. 

The fake TRP case was filed in October after Nitin Deokar, an official of Hansa Research, an agency that placed the ratings metres, filed a complaint alleging the process was being manipulated.  

After investigating the matter, the Mumbai police said Republic TV – which claims to have the highest ratings – was tweaking TRPs to get high advertising rates by bribing the households where the monitoring machines were set. 

The channel has denied any wrongdoing and claimed the accusations were an instance of vendetta by the Mumbai police following their clash over the Sushant Singh Rajput case.

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