According to sources, India Today CFO’s replies ‘not satisfactory’; ED could also look at Mumbai police probe
The fake TRP scam, which occupied much print and electronic media space last year, has taken a new twist after the Enforcement Directorate summoned India Today CFO Dinesh Bhatia for questioning at the ED’s Mumbai office on Monday. Arriving from Delhi, Bhatia entered the ED office at around 9.45 am, and the questioning went on till 8 pm.
In an indication that the ED was not satisfied with his responses, Bhatia has been summoned once again on January 18, and has been asked to furnish some documents. The ED officials have also reportedly asked the India Today CFO to ‘explain’ some conversations with BARC (Broadcast Audience Research Council) officials which allegedly indicate a ‘quid pro quo’.
According to the Opindia website, the new development comes even as the Mumbai police have continued to allege that it was Republic TV which had indulged in manipulating TRPs, even though the original FIR based on the Hansa Research report had implicated India Today in the case.
OpIndia reportedly reached out to India Today’s news director Rahul Kanwal for a comment on the development, but did not get a response. The Mumbai police have so far not summoned India Today in the matter.
CBI enquiry too
The ED had earlier registered an Enforcement Case Information Report (ECIR) in the TRP case. The ED is investigating money laundering allegations and it was reported that all channels mentioned in the original FIR would be probed. It was also reported that along with the channels named in the original FIR, which did not have the name of Republic TV, the Mumbai police probe could also be under scrutiny. The ED is the second central agency to look into the matter after the CBI. The CBI had earlier registered an FIR in the case.
In December 2020, the ED summoned officials from Hansa Research, based on whose FIR the original probe was initiated. OpIndia had reported that Hansa Research, while being questioned by the ED, named India Today and not Republic TV. Further, when two BARC officials were summoned, one from the vigilance department and another from the IT department, both reportedly attested to the fact that the Mumbai police had not summoned any raw data (details of bar-o-meters installed) from BARC.
According to OpIndia, within 48 hours of the FIR being lodged, the Mumbai police held a press conference alleging that Republic TV was involved in the TRP scam, when the original FIR and the Hansa Research report it was based on did not mention Republic TV.
On October 8, Mumbai police commissioner Param Bir Singh said at a press conference that several channels had indulged in unethical practices to increase their TRP ratings, and alleged that Republic TV was one of the main accused.
According to OpIndia, several witnesses alleged that the Mumbai police had been intimidating them to speak against Republic TV. Hansa officials also allegedly complained that they were being harassed by the Mumbai police to give statements against Republic TV.
(Read the Opindia article: https://www.opindia.com/2021/01/enforcement-directorate-summons-india-today-executive-fake-trp-case/)