The Mumbai Police investigation into TRP fraud by major media outlets took a new turn on Sunday, with the Republic CEO and COO being interrogated by the Mumbai Police. Box Cinema and Fakt Marathi were the other channels implicated in the scandal.
"TRP is a data point," says Arun Raman, a chief intelligence officer at Grey Group. While speaking on the real purpose of TRP was to assure a return on investment for advertising agencies who put crores into campaigns on channels. He spoke as part of an interview hosted by HW News.
"If I put in 1 rupee and it reaches 5 people, then my ROI is 5," Raman illustrated. "Now if your ROI is not reaching 5, is actually 2.5, then you've cheated me as an investor." The real impact of TRP fraud apart from the ethical concerns is actually the breach of trust between the investor and the company, he said.
Terming the racket as a fully "erroneous" form of data fabrication, Raman said that it is also likely to affect the confidence of advertisers in BARC ratings, which are used to determine the most profitable slot to advertise in. They have created an entire system to falsify TRP ratings, and the implications of this racket could also reach other industries like the film industry.
When questioned about the role of advertisers in promoting channels which espouse constant toxicity and general jingoistic discourse, Raman said that TRP was the only reason brands invested as many of them chose profit above medium, although this is changing with movements like Black Lives Matter.
The TRP fraud racket escalated with Republic TV co-founder Arnab Goswami challenging the Mumbai Police to prove their claims and maintained that they associated no erroneous TRP readings with his channel. Goswami also alleged that the name of Republic TV had never appeared in the FIR, pointing out that it was India Today group that was mentioned.
Police have arrested four people in this case so far.