NEW DELHI/MUMBAI : Summoned by Mumbai Police in connection with the television rating point (TRP) rigging case, Republic Media Network’s Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Shiva Subramaniyam Sundaram did not present himself to record his statement saying he had moved the Supreme Court and the matter was likely to be listed for hearing by next week.
In response to the notice issued by ACP, Mumbai, Sundaram wrote back saying he had filed a writ petition under Article 32 before the Supreme Court and requested to defer the investigation accordingly.
While he expressed “commitment to cooperate” in the investigations, he requested the police “to not proceed any further with the investigation in so far as Republic TV and its employees are concerned” and assured that he and other employees of the channel concerned will join the probe subject to the order of the Supreme Court.
The police had issued summons to Sundaram and two other Marathi channels on Friday to appear in connection with alleged manipulation of TRPs. The summons to Sundaram said there are reasonable grounds to believe that he is “acquainted with certain facts and circumstances of the matter and the same is required to be ascertained”.
The Mumbai Police had also asked several officials from advertising agencies to join the probe. Sam Balsara, chairman and managing director of ad agency Madison World and Madison Communications, appeared before the crime branch on Saturday to record his statement.Mumbai Police has, meanwhile, roped in the Economic Offences Wing (EoW) to probe the financial angle in the scam.
According to the police, the three channels had allegedly paid money to households and middlemen to increase their TRPs. “We need the EOW help to find out the financial transaction and its route and money trail,” said a police officer who is part of the investigations.
According to sources, the EOW will investigate the diversion of funds and proceeds of crime in terms of advertising revenues earned through fudged TRPs. Forensic auditors will dig into the accounts of Republic and the other channels to find the alleged money trail. The Mumbai Police on Saturday issued fresh summons to senior management of Republic as well as Hansa Research, the agency hired by BARC to install and monitor barometres.
BARC report sought
The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has sought a report from the BARC over the rankings of TV channels in light of the recent alleged scam of manipulation of TRPs. The ministry wrote to BARC, and the latter is expected to submit the report on Monday, following which the ministry will decide the future course of action, a senior official said. When this paper approached BARC for a comment on the report sought, it said in an e-mail, “Any communication between BARC and the MIB (Ministry of Information and Broadcasting) is privileged communication.