The chief executive of Republic TV, Vikas Khanchandani, is being questioned by the Crime Branch of the Mumbai police in the case involving the alleged rigging of television ratings for profit. The channel's CFO Shiva Subramaniyam Sundaram, was summoned on Saturday, but he asked that it be rescheduled. The owners of two TV channels -- Fakt Marathi and Box Cinema -- are among the four people arrested in the case.
The 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 the police. Calling it a "desperate measure", channel head Arnab Goswami said, "He (the Mumbai police chief) should issue a public apology or get ready to face us in court."
Mr Sundaram has said the channel had filed a petition with the Supreme Court challenging the police summons, which is likely to be listed soon. In a statement on Saturday, he requested the police "not to proceed with any further investigation in so far as Republic TV and its employees are concerned".
At a press conference on Thursday, Mumbai Police chief Parambir Singh said the facts emerged during a larger analysis of manipulation of news trends and how a "false narrative" was being spread, especially regarding the investigation into Sushant Singh Rajput's death.
Data indicated that the three channels were tweaking ratings to get high advertising rates, a procedure that amounts to fraud.
Around 20,000 households are monitored by Hansa -- an agency that placed the ratings metres -- and it emerged that a section of them were being bribed to run the specific channels concerned, the police said. Each family was receiving Rs 400 to Rs 500 a month,
That data was being manipulated became clear when it emerged that non-English speaking poor households were watching English news channels.
It was Hansa that filed a complaint and the investigation started thereafter, the police said.