On Wednesday, a Mumbai Court granted anticipatory bail to three employees of Republic TV channel who are accused in the Television Rating Points (TRP) scam. The verdict was passed today by Additional Sessions Judge Abhishri Deo. The bail application was filed by employees, Siva Subramaniam, Chief Financial Officer and Shivendra Mundherkar and Ranjit Walter.
The Crime Branch began the investigation into the TRP scam after it came to light that through certain employees of the Hansa Group, that ‘sampling metering services’ were being manipulated whereby people were being payed to watch certain channels to increase ratings.
The three applicants were all named accused in the supplementary charge sheet filed last month by the Mumbai Crime Branch.
The supplementary charge sheet stated that from 2017 to 2018, while Partho Dasgupta, former Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) Chief Executive Officer, was working in BARC, TRP ratings of Times Now news channels were illegally manipulated. This was done so that ratings were below that of Republic TV channels. Times Now allegedly suffered a loss of Rs. 431 crores, according to a Times Now executive who reported the same in the charge sheet.
While looking at Republic TV’s pro-BJP politics it is not surprising to see how the legal process has been extremely forgiving of Republic TV and its employees in the case of the TRP scam. The same cannot be said for journalists and scholars who have been consistently critical of the ruling dispensation, with bail applications constantly being denied to many, by means of arrests under draconian laws such as the UAPA.