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10th accused arrested in TRP manipulation scam

The Mumbai Police have arrested a 10th person, a resident of Thane, for his alleged involvement in the Television Rating Points (TRP) manipulation scam.

“During investigation, he confessed that he has been accepting money from at least two news channels [Republic and News Nation] and used to pay to certain households through his associates. Two of such associates have earlier been arrested in this regard,” the Detection Crime Branch of the Mumbai Police said in a statement.

It said many of the arrested and some of the wanted accused were employees of Hansa Research Group Pvt Ltd and they misused the confidential data. “It has apparently been done for wrongful gains of various TV channels which had resulted in wrongful loss to various advertisers and their agencies. Preliminary investigations also revealed that the accused persons have manipulated the sampling metering services by inducing the barometer users by paying them periodically to watch particular TV channel/s,” the statement added.

“Many people, in whose homes these barometers were installed, have accepted that they have been monetarily benefited for keeping their TV sets on even if they actually didn’t watch.”

Stating that a team of forensic auditors had been specially deployed to assist the Special Investigation Team (SIT), the Mumbai Police said it had been revealed during the course of the investigation that the suspected TV channels were manipulating the viewerships to get better rates of advertisements as it was their only source of revenue.

The police said a money trail of transactions between a Hansa Group company and ARG Outlier Media Pvt Ltd, which is the company operating Republic TV channels, was revealed. “These transactions and such connectivity with the suspect channels was not revealed to the SIT by any of the witnesses from any of the Hansa Group companies. As a matter of policy, the SIT is committed towards a fair probe,” the statement said.

Hansa Research said it had no business dealings with Republic TV and had not made any payment to the channel nor received from it. Shekar Swamy, group CEO, Hansa, said: “Our group company Hansa Vision India Pvt Ltd is in the advertising business. It purchases advertising time and space in various TV channels and other media regularly for its clients. This is normal, routine business.”

The last time Hansa Vision had purchased advertising time in Republic TV was two years ago for a value of ₹108 lakh. “The Mumbai Police are perhaps incorrectly linking this with the current TRP-related investigation.” Mr. Swami said in 2019 and 2020, Hansa Vision had not bought any advertising time from the Republic TV.

“Hansa Research and the people working for this company have nothing to do with the advertising activities of the group company Hansa Vision.” Hansa Research works for BARC to collect data from the 30,000 barometers installed across Indian homes to monitor various programmes for assignment of TRP.

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Printable version | Nov 30, 2020 2:17:26 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/10th-accused-arrested-in-trp-manipulation-scam/article32958177.ece

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