Former COO of the Broadcast Audience Research Council, Romil Ramgarhia's custody has been extended to Monday by the Mumbai magistrate court. Ramgarhia is the fourteenth person to be arrested in the ongoing TRP scam case, in which he is alleged to have helped certain channels to gain higher TRP's for which he received certain 'benefits' in return.
According to the Free Press Journal, Mumbai Police API Sachin Vaze alleged that Ramgarhia misused his position to influence the TRP ratings of Republic TV.
"From his WhatsApp chats, it is revealed that for the last four years, Romil was receiving financial benefits from Republic, including shopping discounts and holiday packages through [Vikas] Khanchandani," Vaze is quoted as saying. He also claimed that Ramgarhia had been passing on key information about BARC's latest software and practises to Republic TV.
However, Vaze had earlier been named in a complaint submitted by Hansa Research Agency in the High Court, in which Hansa claimed that their employees had been subjected to "pressure and intimidation tactics" by Vaze and the Mumbai Police to provide evidence that would incriminate Republic TV in the TRP scandal. They had also sought a transfer of the case to the CBI.
A forensic audit was also received by the Mumbai Police SIT team which revealed financial irregularities in the dealings of Republic TV.
The Quint quotes the report as saying that: "Increased TRP had resulted in giving power to ARG Media Outlier (the company which owns Republic TV and Republic Bharat) to bargain for higher revenue. Further, it has also valued its share at an exponentially high premium by projecting high revenues for future years (sic)."
Other irregularities included artificially inflating share values and Republic TV Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami is allegedly named in the report for using funds acquired against share capital to bribe Ajay Garg of SARG. In fact, the report claims that TRP ratings for the channel had been artificially inflated from the moment of its launch. Ramgarhia is also accused of deliberately not feeding the data for other channels so that TRPs for Republic would remain higher, as well as using his position to cover up such activities.
Republic TV allegedly used the "dual-frequency" method to increase its TRP ratings (by broadcasting its channels on two frequencies.
Other channels named in the case include Maha Movies, Fakht Marathi and Box Office. The case broke in October after BARC filed a complaint via Hansa Research Agency. Given the suspected involvement of an ex-COO, reports suggest that the Mumbai Police are looking into who else is involved from BARC itself.