New Delhi: A CBI probe has found that the rating numbers of India Today TV were reduced without any vigilance proof at the instance of former Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) chief executive officer Sunil Lulla, sources informed NewsDrum.
“India Today was forcefully made No. 3 when the data was showing No. 2 in Week 16 of 2020,” said a person aware of the CBI findings. Lulla has been chargesheeted by the agency in the case. The chargesheet has been filed in a court in Lucknow.
The case is based on a complaint from a Lucknow-based advertiser.
Sources said the CBI looked at all the aspects in the case and checked four markets including Lucknow, Mumbai, Delhi and Bengaluru before reaching a conclusion.
Sources added that the CBI did not find any evidence of alleged manipulation being done at the customer level by channels.
“The manipulation was not outside but within BARC and BARC CEO was the source of manipulation,” added the person quoted above.
The CBI spokesperson was not available for comments.
According to sources, Derrick Gray, Chief of Measurement Science & Business Analytics, BARC India, told Lulla that India Today’s numbers cannot be reduced because the numbers did not seem to be corrupt.
As per the CBI probe, Suma Ramesh of BARC India also told Lulla that India Today’s numbers cannot be reduced in the absence of any proof of manipulation or vigilance input.
“However, Lulla asked Gray to create two scenarios and picked one of them to reduce the numbers,” according to the person aware of the CBI probe findings.
CBI also found that Lulla used to offer a preview of viewership data to Star India on a gratis basis.
A query sent to Lulla for his response on the allegations made in the CBI chargesheet remained unanswered.
However, his spokesperson on Tuesday said, “Mr Sunil Lulla has been a high integrity professional in his entire career and has an unblemished track record. His conduct has been as per BARC policies & procedures and all the allegations made against him are totally false. We have complete faith in the rule of law and the Hon'ble courts.”