Two top editors of Republic TV, which has been accused of rigging viewership ratings, have been summoned by Mumbai Police as part of its probe into the alleged manipulation of ratings by three channels. The channel has called the latest summons a “desperate witch-hunt”.
Executive Editor Niranjan Narayanaswamy and Senior Executive Editor Abhishek Kapoor were summoned by Mumbai Police on Tuesday. They’ve been asked to appear before the Crime Intelligence Unit at noon today.
On October 10, Republic TV had aired a document which purportedly belonged to Hansa Research Group and “…there are reasonable grounds to believe that you are acquainted with certain facts and circumstances of the said document which purportedly belongs to Hansa Research Group Pvt. Ltd. and the same is required to be ascertained from you, and Whereas it is necessary to record your statement in this regard, and Therefore, you are directed to provide said document which purportedly belongs to Hansa Research Group Pvt. Ltd,” the police summons said.
The investigation into the alleged fake ratings case is based on a complaint by Hansa, a private company involved in assessing viewership.
The channel claimed that two editors were asked by the police to reveal the source of documents purportedly belonging to Hansa.
“It is shocking that the summons issued to them demands that they reveal the source of the Hansa Research Group Private Ltd (‘Hansa’) complaint that bludgeoned the lies that the state machinery in Maharashtra tried to peddle against the news network,” the channel said in a statement.
The channel accused Mumbai police chief Param Bir Singh of “desperate witch-hunt” and likened the demand of revealing sources to “Emergency days”.
Two TV channel owners have been arrested and the directors and promoters of Republic TV are being investigated for ratings fraud.
The police on Tuesday recoded the statements of two employees of Hansa, Pravin Nizar and Nitin Deokar.
On Sunday, a senior official of Republic TV was questioned.
Republic TV – which claims the highest TRPs or Television Rating Points among news channels – said they were being targeted for their coverage of actor Sushant Singh Rajput’s death, where they have questioned the role of Mumbai Police.
The channel’s editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami had said they will sue Mumbai Police for the allegations and that there is “not a single BARC (Broadcast Audience Research Council) report that mentioned Republic TV”. “The people of India know the truth. BARC has not mentioned Republic in any complaint,” he said.
Republic TV is the biggest name to have emerged in the early investigation with viewers testifying that they had been paid to keep the channel on even when they were not watching. The two others are local channels in Maharashtra called Fakt Marathi and Box Cinema.