Mumbai police on Sunday has arrested Republic TV Chief Executive Officer Vikas Khanchandani in connection to the alleged TRP manipulation scam case. SB Bhajipale, Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate at Esplanade, Mumbai has remanded Khanchandani to police custody till December 15.
The police claimed that the 13th accused, Vikas Khanchandani is also a beneficiary in the TRP scam and is well aware of the crime.
In the 1,400-page charge sheet filed by Mumbai police, it is submitted that Republic TV had allegedly carried out transactions amounting to Rs 15 lakhs in a month to increase their Television Rating Points (TRP) by getting more viewers on their news channels Republic TV (English) and Republic Bharat (Hindi).
A session court has granted interim bail to the Republic TV Chief Operating Officer Priya Mukerjee last week. The court issued directions to release Mukherjee on the personal bond of Rs 50,000 and asked her to visit the police station once every week.
Mumbai police told that Khanchandani has been interrogated and his statement has been recorded twice after his suspected role identified in the TRP scam after interrogating channel distribution head, Ghanshyam Singh.
It was claimed that Khanchandani is a member of a Whatsapp group formed for the discussion on Logical Channel Number (LCN), an identification number given to every channel. The police alleged that Republic TV had used dual LCN number, ultimately, allowing their channel to run under the category of ‘kids’, apart from running under a category ‘news channels’ to gain more viewers.
Special Investigation Team has submitted before the court that Khanchandani has denied depositing his phone for the investigation. SIT also told the court that it wished to interrogate Khanchandani over his alleged role in the payments made to multi-system operators and cable operators in order to increase the TRP of the channel.
On Sunday evening, News Broadcasters’ Federation (NBF) has issued a statement that Khanchandani’s bail petition is scheduled to be heard. It also stated that the arrest and remand is highly disturbing.
NBF has urged the Government of India to set up an independent neutral agency to investigate the allegations posed regarding professional misconduct by journalists, executives, and owners of media companies, in order to avoid harassment by state authorities and ensure the freedom of the press.