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TRP scam: Republic TV CEO Vikas Khanchandani sent to 14-day judicial custody

A petition has also been filed in the Bombay HC to seek relief for him.

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NEW DELHI: Republic TV CEO Vikas Khanchandani has been remanded to judicial custody for 14 days by the metropolitan magistrate court in Mumbai in connection with the TRP manipulation racket.

Just like with the arrest of the network’s editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami, a petition has been filed in the Bombay HC seeking relief for Khanchandani while a bail plea is already pending before a lower court. The sessions court in Mumbai will hear his bail petition on 16 December.

Khanchandani was arrested on Sunday, following which a Mumbai court had remanded him to two days of police custody till 15 December.

The police submitted before the court that the Republic network, in order to increase its TRP, paid Rs 15 lakh monthly to ensure that more viewers watch their channels – Republic TV (English) and Republic Bharat (Hindi).

Media reports state that police found the alleged amount in possession of Abhishek Kolawade, accused of taking money from the channel for carrying out activities to increase the viewership and thereby the TRPs of the channel.

After interrogating ARG Outlier AVP Ghanshyam Singh, the police concluded that Singh was allegedly being directed to carry out illegal activities to increase the channel’s ratings by Republic TV COO Priya Mukherjee, who in turn was being instructed by Khanchandani.

The remand order for the Republic TV CEO was sought on the above points. His counsel argued that Khanchandani was targeted because Arnab Goswami is engaged in a dispute with the Maharashtra government for several reasons. It was also pointed out that the arrest was deliberately made on Sunday, a day before his anticipatory bail application was listed for hearing before the Mumbai sessions court, so as to defeat the petition.

The TRP scam was unearthed by Mumbai police on 8 October after BARC filed a complaint through Hansa Research group, alleging that certain television channels were rigging ratings. Hansa had been tasked with installing barometers, which record viewership data at sample households.

Mumbai police commissioner Param Bir Singh then claimed that Republic TV and two Marathi channels – Box Cinema and Fakt Marathi – were involved in manipulating TRPs.

Since then, several arrests have been made in the case and there have been a lot of developments both within and outside of the courtroom. 

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