Republic paid us directly to rig TRP, witnesses tell magistrate
Four people have given statements before a magistrate that two TV channels directly made payments for keeping the channels on for a fixed duration to inflate viewership figures, city police officials probing the TRP scam said. They will be treated as witnesses in the police case against these channels.
Three of them have deposed before a magistrate saying Republic TV made payments to them, while the fourth witness made a similar statement against Box Cinema. Mumbai police commissioner Parambir Singh confirmed three witnesses had named Republic’s officials as being involved in the rigging of viewership. He refused to elaborate, saying investigations were at a crucial stage and any disclosure at this stage would hamper the probe.
Republic TV, Box Cinema and Fakt Marathi are being investigated by the crime branch on charges of alleged rigging of viewership, which drives advertising.
The statements were made by the witnesses under Section 164 of the CrPC, which deals with recording and confession of statements by a metropolitan magistrate or judicial magistrate during the course of investigation, police said. The magistrate records the statements only after he is convinced that they are being made voluntarily. Police officers said that now it could not be alleged that the cops had extracted these confessions from the witnesses.
Of the five people arrested so far, three, including a former employee of Hansa Research, have told the police that they were part of the racket and were making payments to households.
The Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) had contracted the job of installing peoplemetres to Hansa. The manipulation takes the form of bribes being paid to households to keep their TV sets switched to a particular channel, a police officer said. “These confessions will make our case stronger,” he added.
Meanwhile, assistant inspector Sachin Waze recorded the statement of Republic TV’s senior executive editor Abhishek Kapoor for three hours on Thursday. On Wednesday, police had recorded statements of the channel’s executive editor Niranjan Narayanswamy.
Kapoor was also questioned regarding the telecast of a document (purportedly the FIR copy in the TRP scam) on October 10. Sources said that the duo refused to divulge any information as to how they got access to the copy of the FIR.