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CBI files charge sheet against former BARC CEO Sunil Lulla, lawyer denies allegations

The CBI has filed a charge sheet against former BARC CEO Sunil Lulla for allegedly manipulating viewership ratings of channels from “his ends” during his tenure in the ratings agency, officials said Tuesday.

During the probe that was started on a complaint from a Lucknow-based advertiser, the CBI did not find any evidence of alleged manipulation being done at the customer level by channels, they said.

The alleged manipulation in TV ratings took place at the level of Lulla when he was heading the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC), according to the agency charge sheet filed at a special CBI court in Lucknow.

Lulla has denied the charges.

Sources refused to share details of the charge sheet as the special court is yet to take cognizance of it.

The agency has pressed charges under IPC sections 406 (criminal breach of trust), 420 (cheating) and others, they said.

The court will take cognisance of the charge sheet on December 15, for which it has issued summons to Lulla, they said.

“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 and procedures and all the allegations made against him are totally false. We have complete faith in the rule of law and the Honourable courts,” a spokesperson for Lulla said in a statement.

TRP or Television Rating Points of a channel or programme are used to measure popularity by advertising agencies which impact pricing.

The points are calculated in India by BARC using a device installed in over 45,000 households across the country called “Bar-O-Meter”.

The device collects data about a programme or channel watched by members of these household on the basis of which weekly ratings are issued by BARC.

The case, which was earlier registered at Hazratganj police station in Lucknow on a complaint of an advertising company promoter, was handed over to the CBI by the Uttar Pradesh government, they said. PTI

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