The Enforcement Directorate (ED) registered a money laundering case under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act in the Television Rating Points (TRP) manipulation case.
ED’s case is based on Mumbai police’s FIR that is being investigated by a special investigation team (SIT) of Mumbai Crime branch. SIT officials previously claimed that Republic TV’s distribution head paid ₹15 lakh a month for seven months to a fixer to boost the viewership of the channel.
SIT officials also suspected some Hawala transactions took place between the executives of some channels and vendors to boost the viewership of their channels illegally. ED may look into these suspicious financial transactions.
ED is the second central agency to get involved in a case concerning TRPs. Interestingly, soon after the Mumbai Police launched its investigation, the Central Bureau of Investigation registered a case on a TRP racket in Uttar Pradesh.
A senior ED officer confirmed to HT that an EICR has been registered in the TRP manipulation matter and the probe has begun. HT learns that the probe will cover all the channels named in the original FIR and not just Republic TV. ED officials said senior executives of all these channels will be summoned for questioning by ED officials.
Mumbai police had begun investigation in the matter after ratings agency Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) filed a complaint through Hansa Research Group. In October, while sharing details of the findings of preliminary inquiry, the Mumbai police claimed that TRP ratings, which decide who will get the biggest share of advertisements, were being manipulated by three channels, two regional channels and Republic TV.
Later, 12 people were arrested by the SIT in connection with the manipulation.
Republic TV has denied any wrongdoing.
SIT also arrested Republic TV’s distribution head Ghanshyam Dilipkumar Singh, from his Thane residence. Singh allegedly paid monthly ₹15 lakh for seven months to a vendor to boost viewership of his channel, the crime branch claimed in the remand copy filed before the court. Police also claimed that hawala channels were also used for these transactions.
“Relentless attack on Republic Media network continues; Republic Distribution head AVP Ghanshyam Singh detained by crime branch; Ghanshyam had been cooperating in the Mumbai police’s fake TRP case probe,” the channel said.
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