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Hansa Hid Info on Commercial Interests with TV Channels, Says Mumbai Police's Charge Sheet in TRP Scam

File photo of Mumbai Police commissioner Param Bir Singh.

File photo of Mumbai Police commissioner Param Bir Singh.

The 1,400-page charge sheet was submitted before a magistrate's court earlier in the day by the Special Investigation Team (SIT) of the Mumbai Crime Branch which is probing the case related to alleged rigging of TRPs.

The holding company of Hansa Research has commercial interests with various TV channels, but it did not share this information with Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC), said the Mumbai police charge sheet in the TRP scam which was filed in a court here on Tuesday. The 1,400-page charge sheet was submitted before a magistrate's court earlier in the day by the Special Investigation Team (SIT) of the Mumbai Crime Branch which is probing the case related to alleged rigging of television rating points (TRPs).

During investigation, it came to light that Hansa Vision Pvt Ltd, the holding company of Hansa Research Pvt Ltd, has commercial interests with various TV channels, but it did not disclose about them to BARC, the document said. The scam came to light last month when ratings agency BARC filed a complaint through Hansa Research Group, alleging that certain television channels were rigging TRP numbers.

Hansa had been tasked with installing BARC barometers, which record viewership data. According to a synopsis of the charge sheet, Hansa Research did not inform Meterology Data Ltd (MDL), a unit of BARC, about its commercial interests with TV channels and hid that information.

The charge sheet said there is no procedure to investigate or to conduct an inquiry and to take action against employees or officers of Hansa Research Group for any malpractice. Five out of the 12 persons arrested so far in connection with the scam are former employees of Hansa Research Group, it said.

Hansa Research Group has the responsibility to install barometers and look after their maintenance in Mumbai and other parts of Maharashtra on behalf of BARC. Employees who look after installation and maintenance of BARC barometers are called relationship managers.

These relationship managers are mandated to be in contact with people in households where barometers have been installed and prevent any malpractice to manipulate TRPs. Accused Vishal Bhandari, who was a relationship manager with the company, gave money to households to watch Box Cinema, Fakt Marathi, Maha Movie and Republic TV channels for a longer period of time, the charge sheet said.

He also accepted money from his aides as commission due to which there was damage to the companys reputation and led to cheating of advertisers and companies who promoted their products, the document said. Bhandari compromised database of barometers and induced advertisers to air their commercial on specific channels, the charge sheet said.

The charge sheet said channel owners/directors and persons related to them, who are in the list of wanted accused, were also involved in various financial malpractices. Republic TV's western region distribution head Ghanshyam Singh and owners of two channels are among those arrested in the scam, he said.

Republic TV and other accused have denied any wrongdoing and manipulation of the TRP system.

first published:November 25, 2020, 00:05 IST