The Mumbai Police on Sunday arrested Republic TV CEO Vikas Khanchandani in connection with its probe into the alleged Television Rating Points (TRP) manipulation scam.
Milind Bharambhe, joint commissioner of police (crime) confirmed the arrest. Khanchandani will be produced in the court today. He was previously questioned by the investigators two times.
During the crime branch’s probe, it was revealed that some cable operators had used dual LCN (Landing Channel Number) technology which allowed viewing of one channel on two channel numbers at a time.
The Republic TV officials also contacted cable operators to fix LCN and LCN promotion. Khanchandani knew everything as he was part of Republic’s internal WhatsApp group where discussions about LCN and Promotion LCN discussions took place, police sources said.
The fake TRP scam came to light in October when ratings agency Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) filed a complaint through Hansa Research Group, alleging that certain television channels were rigging TRP numbers.
Hansa is one of BARC’s vendors on engagement with panel homes or people’s meters.
TRP, measured by recording viewership data at sample households, is crucial for attracting advertisers.
As per the police, some of these households were being bribed to tune into Republic TV and a few other channels.
Republic TV has denied wrongdoing.
Another of channel’s employee – western region distribution head Ghanshyam Singh – was arrested last month in connection with the alleged scam. He was granted bail earlier this month.
The Special Investigation Team (SIT) of the Mumbai Police has arrested a total of 13 persons in the case so far.
Meanwhile, Republic TV editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami moved the Bombay high court last week seeking a stay to further investigation by the Mumbai Police in the TRP manipulation scam.
The petition, filed by Goswami and ARG Outlier Media which owns Republic TV, also alleged that one of the employees of the firm was tortured by the police in custody.
It sought protection for all employees from the “malicious witch hunt” allegedly being carried out by the Maharashtra authorities.
The Supreme Court had last Monday refused to entertain a plea filed by ARG Outlier Media Private Limited, which owns the Republic Media network, seeking protection for the group and its employees in the cases lodged against them in Maharashtra.