MUMBAI: The city crime branch, probing the Television Rating Points (TRP) manipulation scam, on Friday said that Romil Ramgarhia, former chief operating officer of Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC), was offered holiday packages and shopping coupons by a TV channel for sharing confidential information on the chosen audience for assessing viewership patterns.
BARC, the joint broadcasting industry body, is responsible for designing, commissioning, supervising and owning India’s TV audience measurement system.
Police said Ramgarhia had received illegal financial benefits in the last couple of years. The crime branch stated that this was evident from the WhatsApp messages shared between Ramgarhia and the director of a company that runs a TV channel. The police on Friday sent a team to the BARC office in Mumbai. Police have also seized Ramgarhia’s laptop and will send it for cyber analysis. Sources said the police were examining the involvement of some other more former BARC employees. Ramgarhia was arrested on Thursday. He is the 14th accused to be arrested in this case.
An officer said they have found Ramgarhia was leaking information about TRP fluctuations to an accused who was arrested earlier. The accused is working at a senior level with a channel. Police alleged that Ramgarhia manipulated the data and, on some occasions, would not feed the data. An officer said the director of a company with whom Ramgarhia was in contact had deleted some messages after sending them to Ramgarhia via WhatsApp.
In one chat, police said, the director of a TV channel company stated that the chats were end-to end encrypted, that no one would know about them and that there was no need to worry.
The officer said BARC has its own mechanism where, if someone tries to manipulate TRPs, the system would send out an alert. Since the department was headed by Ramgarhia, he managed it and never brought things out in the open.
Earlier, police had arrested Republic TV’s chief executive officer (CEO) Vikas Khanchandani, owners of Fakt Marathi and Box Cinema TV and several others. A chargesheet against 12 accused has also been filed before a court.
Investigation in the case is being carried out by API Sachin Vaze and his team.