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Odishatv Bureau

Mumbai: In a sensational revelation, the Mumbai Police claimed to have busted a major fraud of manipulating TRP (Television Rating Point) data by at least three TV channels and nabbed two persons, Commissioner of Police Param Bir Singh said here on Thursday.

The channels allegedly indulging in the fraudulent activities include Republic TV, Fakt Marathi and Box Cinema, and the action follows a complaint registered by the Crime Branch recently.

Singh said the owners of the 3 channels involved in the alleged scam have been charged with criminal breach of trust and cheating for 'fixing data'.

"While 2 channels owners are arrested, the police will question the Republic TV owners/directors soon. Nobody will be spared and stringent action will be taken," Singh warned.

On Thursday, Republic Media Network's Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami released a statement exposing as false the allegations levelled by Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh. After Param Bir Singh's false allegations, Arnab Goswami announced that Republic TV will file a criminal defamation case against the Mumbai Police Commissioner. Arnab made it clear that BARC has not mentioned Republic TV in a single complaint.

Threatening to slap a criminal defamation case against Singh, he accused the police chief of making "false allegations" against the Republic TV because the channel had questioned him in the investigations of the Sushant Singh Rajput case.

He stressed that these charges have been levelled because the Republic Media Network questioned Param Bir Singh in the Sushant Singh Rajput death case. Arnab stated that such action only strengthens the resolve of everyone working at the Network to push for the truth even harder. He urged the Mumbai Police Commissioner to issue an official apology and face legal proceedings.

Also Read: Republic TV Editor Arnab Goswami Attacked By Miscreants ‘Over Palghar Lynching’

Addressing the media, Singh said that following a complaint, one person working for Hansa Research Group Pvt. Ltd., a company which is part of the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) was arrested from Malad.

He along with another person are accused of misusing confidential data that was entrusted with them for "wrongful gains by various TV channels" which in turn led to losses to advertisers and advertising agencies.

"Preliminary probe revealed that they manipulated the sampling metering services by inducing the barometer users and paying them periodically to watch particular TV channel/s," Singh said.

Some of the people in whose homes these barometers have been installed have confessed that they were paid Rs.500 for keeping their TV sets switched on even if they didn't actually watch.

The Kandivali Police Station has registered a case, arrested the two accused persons before a Magistrate Court which has remanded them to police custody till October 9.

"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, the 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," Goswami added.

"Param Bir Singh stands completely exposed today since BARC has not mentioned Republic in any single complaint. He should issue an official apology and get ready to face us in court," said the channel.

A high-level team led by Joint Police Commissioner Milind Bharambe, DCP Nandkumar Thakur and DCP Akbar Pathan, along with other officers are investigating the matter.

An official said that several teams have fanned out across India to nab some other absconders in the matter.

The police have said that certain witnesses have come forward confessing that they were given monthly monetary inducements by the accused in the matter.

AajTak To Pay Rs 1 Lakh Fine, Air Apology For Broadcasting Fake Tweets About SSR

The News Broadcasting Standard Authority (NBSA) has imposed a fine of Rs 1 lakh on AajTak and sought a public apology from the channel for telecasting fake tweets relating to late actor Sushant Singh Rajput.

NBSA, a self-regulatory body, asked AajTak, part of TV Today, to air an apology in view of the fact that it did not conduct the due diligence required prior to telecasting the tweets and attributing them to the late actor. The text, date and time of the apology will be given to the broadcaster.

The proof of compliance of telecast of the apology should be submitted on compact disc within 7 days of the telecast, NBSA said.

NBSA also decided that a fine of Rs 1 lakh be imposed on Aaj Tak payable to NBSA within seven days of receipt of the order.

Referring to Aaj Tak's "Hit-Wicket" tagline, the authority said, "It appears that the questions are being addressed to Sushant Singh Rajput, who is no more, therefore the taglines are offensive, violate privacy and affect the dignity of the deceased."

The NBSA said while it is the duty of the news channel to report news, it should not violate the privacy of the dead nor sensationalise a tragic incident.

In its order dated October 6, the NBSA said, "Aaj Tak 'did not conduct the due diligence required prior to telecasting the tweets and attributing them to Rajput'."

It also said that videos of the same programmes, if hosted on the website of the broadcasters, YouTube or other links, should be removed immediately.

Related Story: SSR Case: Mumbai Police In Hot Pursuit Of Social Media Trolls

AajTak had published a report on Rajput's "last tweets" on June 16, two days after the actor was found dead in his house in Mumbai. Aaj Tak had also tweeted the article from its official Twitter account. The tweet where the late actor allegedly hinted taking his own life was subsequently deleted. Aaj Tak later took down its report.

AajTak had given some "Hit wicket" taglines, such as "aise kaise hit-wicket ho gaye Sushant?", "Sushant zindagi ki pitch par hit-wicket kaise ho gaye" and "Sushant itne ashant kaise?".

The NBSA said the news channel has violated the 'Specific Guideline Covering Reportage'.

(With Agency Inputs)

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