The Enforcement Directorate in its affidavit informed a special court in Mumbai that no evidence was found against Republic TV and R Bharat in the alleged TRP rigging scam.
Reportedly, ED has found evidence against some regional and entertainment channels that were involved in manipulating television rating points by paying sample or ‘panel’ households.
The ED also claimed that it had examined the role of Republic TV and R Bharat and found that the investigation carried out by the Mumbai police was at variance with the probe done by the ED. The agency also added that the forensic report was superficial and based on analysis of limited aspects.
According to media reports, ED has filed a chargesheet in the special Prevention of Money Laundering Act court. The charge sheet named 16 accused, which included directors of Box Cinema, Fakt Marathi and Maha Movies channels and several relationship managers (RMs) associated with Hansa Research Group, a contractor employed by the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC), a ratings agency.
The agency also said that an analysis of raw data from households, which were allegedly watching Republic channels, “showed that these households were watching channels other than Republic TV and R Bharat”. The panel households denied having taken money for watching Republic channels and their statements corroborate the raw data kept independently by BARC, the agency added.
However, the ED accepted that there was a TRP manipulation scam and that there was a “wider conspiracy” between channel viewers, agents and RMs to influence/induce the panel households to watch certain channels for monetary gains.
“The malice seems to be deeper as indicated by several FIRs lodged by BARC in various states,” the chargesheet said.
The ED began its probe based on a case registered by the Kandivli police on October 6, 2020.