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TRP scam: ED steps in to probe money laundering angle

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NEW DELHI: It seems that the TRP manipulation scandal that has caused quite a stir in the Indian news broadcasting industry is far from done and dusted.

The case has now come under the lens of the enforcement directorate (ED), which has filed a case under PMLA and will be examining the money laundering angle in the alleged TRP rigging scam. All parties mentioned in the FIR registered by the Mumbai police will be investigated by the agency. 

Earlier, the probe was transferred to the CBI after a case was registered in Lucknow’s Hazratganj police station based on the complaint of an advertising company promoter. As per the FIR, the primary allegations relate to manipulation of TRPs in return for payment.

Multiple parties including research agencies, rating agencies, news channels, and others have been snagged in the net cast by this case. There have been a series of FIRs, litigations, and lawsuits. Members of the companies being scrutinised under the investigation are being summoned to the crime branch to register statements and verify facts. In one instance, Bombay HC even directed crime branch officials to not harass employees of Hansa Research Agency.

The impact of the scam has been such that BARC has suspended the news broadcast ratings for a period of 12 weeks. The developments in the case have further divided the industry into factions.

The alleged TRP manipulation scam was first unearthed by the Mumbai police commissioner Param Bir Singh on 8 October. Since then, charges have been flying thick and fast between one of the accused, Republic Media, and the law keepers. Singh during his press conference had stated three channels including Republic were involved in the rigging. However, the Arnab Goswami-led news broadcaster was vehement in its denial of any involvement, saying that the commissioner was indulging in a vendetta campaign. Goswami has been since then fighting the Mumbai police in the courts.

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