TRP Scam: Following I&B guidelines in probe, says police
Cops also clarify transaction under scanner is between Republic and Hansa Vision, and not Hansa Research, as they claimed on Monday
Mumbai police Crime Branch's Special Investigation Team on Tuesday said it is applying the guidelines of the Information and Broadcasting Ministry that say rating agencies should not indulge in any business with television channels, in its probe into the monetary transactions related to the Television Rating Points (TRP) scam.
Earlier in the day, Republic TV said in a statement that it never had any dealings with Hansa Research, as claimed by Mumbai police. It said the payment as claimed by the police was made by Hansa Vision to Republic for on-air advertising done between October 2017 and October 2018.
"All channels receive advertising from media buying companies and that is not a crime," Republic said in the statement.
mid-day had reported on Monday, quoting API Sachin Vaze, that the SIT is probing transactions worth Rs 32 lakh between Hansa Research and Republic TV. Vaze on Tuesday clarified that the transaction happened with Hansa Vision, a holding company of Hansa Group.
"According to general business ethics and guidelines issued by the I&B ministry, Hansa Research or any of its associate companies cannot engage in business with any TV channel whose TRP is being monitored by BARC (the rating agency), even for the purpose of advertisement," said Vaze. "Hansa Group is directly associated with BARC for installing the Bar-o-meters. We are probing if Hansa Research, which is the complainant in the case, is the real beneficiary of this transaction and also an accomplice."
A statement issued by Mumbai police also said that, "During the course of the investigation, it has been revealed that there have been transactions between a Hansa Group company and ARG Outlier Media Pvt Ltd, which is the company operating Republic TV channels. These transactions as well as such connectivity with the suspect channels was not revealed to the SIT by any of the witnesses from any of the Hansa Group companies. As a matter of policy, the SIT is committed towards a fair investigation in this regard."
Hansa Group also confirmed that Hansa Vision is a related company. "Hansa Research categorically states that it has had no business dealings with Republic TV and no payment has been made to the channel nor received from the channel," it said. "In a statement reported in the media, the Crime Branch spokesperson investigating the TRP scam has alleged that Hansa Research has made payment of R32 lakhs to Republic TV, which is incorrect. Our group company Hansa Vision India Pvt Ltd is in the advertising business. It purchases advertising time and space in various TV channels, and other media for its clients. This is normal, routine business. The last time Hansa Vision purchased advertising time in Republic TV was two years ago for the period from September 2017 to October 2018 for a value of Rs 108 lakh. The Mumbai Police is perhaps incorrectly linking this with the current TRP-related investigation."
Regarding the questioning of its employees, the statement said: "The Hansa Research CEO and team have been repeatedly called by API Sachin Vaze, and asked to stay till late hours. Hansa Research and the people working for this company have nothing to do with the advertising activities of the group company Hansa Vision."
The TRP rating guidelines of I&B Ministry on which the Crime Branch is relying says: "Any member of the board of the television rating company shall not be in the business of broadcasting advertising/advertising agency."
According to details with the registrar of companies, Hansa Vision holds 9.93 lakh shares (over 90 per cent holding) of Hansa Research as of March 31, 2019. Two directors, Narasimhan Krishnaswamy and Srinivasan Krishnaswamy, are common to both companies.
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