The Mumbai Police on Thursday claimed to have busted a racket that involved private television channels manipulating their Television Rating Points, or TRP.
"Investigation reveals that Republic TV, Fakth Marati and Box Cinema have indulged in such activities", the Mumbai police said in a statement.
A household comprising people who were not literate always had an English news channel switched on; they were paid about Rs 400-500 every month, said the police.
The Detection Crime Branch of Mumbai police, which unearthed the TRP racket, has arrested owners of two Marathi channels, for manipulating viewership ratings, the official said.
The police said that they arrested a person associated with Hansa Research Group Pvt Ltd, which was assisting the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC). BARC prepares the TRP ratings, installing 30000 barometers in various parts of the country to monitor programs and based on the statistical metrics, BARC awards ratings to various TV channels.
As per the police version, few employees of Hansa misused the confidential data which had been entrusted to them.
"Preliminary investigations also revelaed that these accused persons have manipulated the sampling metering services by inducing the barometer users by paying them periodically to watch particular TV Channel/s. Many of the people in whose homes these barometers have been installed have accepted that they have been monetarily beneficial for keeping their TV sets on even if they did not actually watch", the police statement said.
Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh told reporters an FIR has been registered at Kandivali Police Station for offences of criminal breach of trust (Section 409), cheating (420) and criminal conspiracy (120B) under the Indian Penal Code.
Responding this development, Republic TV head Arnab Goswami issued a statement warning Mumbai Police of criminal defamation case.
"Commissioner made false allegations against Republic TV because we have questioned him in the Sushant Singh Rajput case investigation. Republic TV will file a criminal defamation case against Mumbai police commissioner Param Bir Singh.
Mr Param Bir Singh's investigation in the Sushant Singh Rajput case is under a cloud and this is a desperate measure because of Republic TV's reportage on Palghar, Sushant Singh Rajput case or any other case.
This kind of targeting only strengthens the resolve of everyone at Republic TV to push for the truth even harder", said Mr. Goswami.