Republic TV chief Vikas Khanchandani has been arrested by the Mumbai Police in the fake ratings scam -- the 13th person to be arrested in the case so far. The arrest of the top executive comes less than a week after the Supreme Court turned down a plea from ARG Outlier Media Private Limited, which owns the Republic Media network, seeking protection for the group and its employees.
"This petition is ambitious in nature. You want Maharashtra Police not to arrest any employee and transfer the cases to CBI. You better withdraw this," Justice DY Chandrachud had told the group, which had accused the Maharashtra Police of "hounding" the media house, its Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami and its employees.
Earlier, the channel's Head of Distribution, Ghanshyam Singh, was named in the 1,400-page charge sheet and two of the accused indicated that they will become approvers in the case. The court will take a call on the matter.
The case was filed in October after Nitin Deokar, an official of Hansa Research, an agency that placed the ratings metres, filed a complaint alleging the process was being manipulated.
After investigating the matter, the Mumbai Police said Republic TV -- which claims to have the highest ratings -- was tweaking ratings to get high advertising rates by bribing the households where the monitoring machines were set.
The police said the households were being paid to keep certain channels on. In each house, the people were paid Rs 400 to Rs 500 a month.
The chargesheet in the case names 140 witnesses, including forensic auditors and members of BARC or Broadcast Audience Research Council, which assesses ratings.
The channel had said the accusations were a matter of vendetta by the Mumbai police following their clash over the Sushant Singh Rajput case.