Republic Media Network's Chief Executive Officer Vikas Khanchandani, who was arrested in the alleged TRP (Television Rating Points) rigging scam was on Wednesday granted bail by a Mumbai court on Wednesday. A metropolitan magistrate court granted bail to Khanchandani on a cash surety of Rs 50,000, his lawyer Niteen Pradhan informed.
Khanchandani was arrested from his residence here by the police's Crime Intelligence Unit (CIU), he said. He was earlier remanded to police custody till December 15.
Although the police sought his remand for 14 days for interrogation in the case, the court granted only two days of his custody to them after hearing the arguments made by the defence lawyer.
Taking to Twitter soon after Khanchandani’s arrest, Republic TV issued a statement, saying, "The Network’s CEO was arrested from his home this morning without any papers, and despite complete compliance with the investigation.” Last week, the Karnataka High Court had granted transit anticipatory bail to Republic Network’s COO Priya Mukherjee for 20 days in the case.
Arnab Goswami, editor-in-chief of the Republic Media Network, alleging that the arrest is ‘unconstitutional’ as Vikas has been cooperating with the police, and asked: “If the matter comes under TRAI, why is the Mumbai Police arresting our CEO Vikas Khanchandani?” While anchoring the broadcast on Vikas’ arrest, Arnab requested that “The Hon'ble Supreme Court of the country takes up this matter suo-motu.”
The police are probing the alleged scam after ratings agency Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) filed a complaint through Hansa Research Agency about rigging of TRP by some channels. TRP, measured by recording viewership data at sample households, is crucial for attracting advertisers.
The BARC engaged Hansa to install and maintain barometers which record TV viewership data at sample households. It was alleged that some of these families were being bribed to tune into certain channels to ramp up their TRP.
In a charge sheet filed recently, the police alleged that an official of Hansa paid money to sample households to tune into Box Cinema, Fakt Marathi, Maha Movie and Republic TV.
Republic TV has denied any wrongdoing. The police have arrested a total of 13 persons in the case so far.