Why did Mumbai Police hold press meet on TRP scam, asks High Court

Bombay High Court. File   | Photo Credit: Vivek Bendre

The Bombay High Court on Tuesday asked why the Mumbai Police hold a press conference last year over the alleged television rating points (TRP) scam.

A Division Bench of Justices S.S. Shinde and Manish Pitale said, “Do the police have an obligation to interact with the press? Why did the commissioner (of police) have to speak to the press?”

The HC posed this question after senior advocate Ashok Mundargi, representing ARG Outlier Media, started reading points highlighted at the press conference conducted by the Commissioner of Police on October 8, 2020.

The HC was hearing a plea filed by Republic TV seeking to quash the FIR registered by the Mumbai Crime Branch against it.

Mr. Mundargi told the Bench that an FIR was registered against Republic TV on October 6, 2020, and the police commissioner took a press conference on October 8 mentioning the channel. “However, the FIR does not name the company,” he said.

He said that on October 13, Arnab Goswami, editor-in-chief and owner of the channel, ran a show on how the channel was not involved in the TRP scam. Two days later, a case of abetment to suicide was registered in Raigad against Mr. Goswami, and he was arrested on November 4.

Mr. Mundargi mentioned names of the employees of the channel and said there had been malafide in showing them as accused in the remand applications on December 13, 2020, and then suspects in the chargesheet by the Crime Branch on January 11, 2021.

The court interrupted and said, “We are not getting into names, just the facts of the case.”

The matter will now be heard on March 17.

On October 8, 2020, Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh had said that a TRP racket had been busted which involved Republic TV, Box Cinema, and Fakt Marathi. He had said that the channels were manipulating TRPs and were involved in distorting the system used by the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) to rate television channels.

A total of 2,000 barometers are installed in Mumbai to monitor TRPs and BARC has given a confidential contract for monitoring the barometers.

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Printable version | May 9, 2021 3:06:28 PM |

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