The Hamsa Research Group has filed a First Interim Report (FIR) against an ex-employee in regards to Television Rating Point (TRP) manipulation in Mumbai’s Kandivali Police station today. The action comes after the Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh named three Television channels, Republic TV, Fakt Marathi and Box Cinema, for allegedly manipulating the TRP.
The incident of TRP tampering came to light after the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) and its contractor Hamsa Research Group conducted a joint investigation over TRP manipulation. BARC has contracted Hamsa group to place audience measurement meters to trace television channels being viewed by the households.
As per Commissioner Singh, 30,000 meters or barometers have been installed pan India and 2,000 were in Mumbai alone. As per the investigation, several households where these meters were placed were paid Rs 500 per month to keep running selected channels. In some installation locations, the viewers were watching an English channel even though they were not familiar with English.
“During the inquiry, we also found that one of the arrested accused persons and some of the wanted accused were employees of Hansa and they have misused the confidential information with them. It has apparently been done for wrongful gain to certain television channels which resulted in a wrongful loss to advertisers and advertising agencies,” Commissioner Singh said.
The effect of the revelations is already being seen by the advertising community. Industrialist Rajiv Bajaj told a business channel CNBC-TV18 that his company Bajaj Auto has blacklisted three channels for advertisements.
The owners of Fakt Marathi and Box Cinema have been arrested along with an ex-employee of Hansa. The accused were produced in the court and sent to police custody till October 9.
Although the FIR has also named another TV channel India Today, the Mumbai Police said that they could get evidence only against three channels. The Police has summoned the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of Republic TV, Fakt Marathi and Box Cinema to investigate the money trail.