The Mumbai Police informed that one of the accused in the Television Rating Point (TRP) manipulation scam had received over Rs 1 crore in the last one year. Reportedly, the accused, Bomapallirao Mistry, received the amount from four to five individuals.
The police said he used to pay households to watch three television channels without having any income source. Meanwhile, Mistry’s bank locker and an account having about Rs 29 lakh were also seized.
“We found that since November last year, more than Rs 1 crore came into his account. These transfers happened after a gap of every two months, and each time an amount ranging from Rs 20 lakh to Rs 25 lakh was deposited. We have noticed five to six such money transfers in his account,” said a crime branch officer.
The crime branch is probing rigging of TRPs and the alleged role of three channels: Republic TV, Fakht Marathi and Box Cinema.
There are allegations that the arrested accused paid money to households, where people meters were installed, to watch these channels to increase their TRP.
Mistry, a Versova resident, was responsible for distributing money to his protégé and another arrested accused, Vishal Bhandari, a former Hansa Research Group employee, a police officer said. “Money came from four to five people. We are now probing them to ascertain why they transferred money to Mistry,” said the officer
Police found that while Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) rules state people meters cannot be installed at an employee’s residence, there was one installed at Bhandari’s home. Bhandari, while working with Hansa Research as a relationship manager, was responsible for 83 households where the people meters were installed.
An officer said, “We have recorded statements of 38 of them. Some of them said they didn’t want to watch one particular English channel-—which is under probe—but agreed to do so on monthly payments of Rs 400 to Rs 500. Some people said Bhandari had transferred money through Google Pay.”
A Crime Intelligence Unit (CIU) team led by API Sachin Waze that is currently questioning the accused went on to write to the bank and request for financial transitions in Republic TV’s account, according to a police officer who is closely involved in the probe.