|(Top) Bachchan with Prem Prakash Rai in Episode 4 and in Episode 15. (Pictures from indya.com)
Mumbai, Jan. 27: A news channel has raised questions about the selection procedure of Kaun Banega Crorepati 2, saying at least five competitors have beaten daunting odds to appear twice on the programme.
However, STAR India dismissed suggestions that the shortlisting process is vulnerable to manipulation and threatened legal action.
The Amitabh Bachchan-hosted show is aired on STAR Plus. “We will be taking strong action, using whatever means available to us under the law of the land, against such deliberate defamation and slander against KBC 2 and the STAR Network,” STAR India chief operating officer Sameer Nair said today. “It is a clear case of sensational journalism by trying to stir up public frenzy on hype rather than facts.”
In a report aired last evening, with downloads from the official Kaun Banega Crorepati website indya.com, India TV showed that at least five persons have appeared on KBC 2 twice.
The news channel said that for each episode of the show, 25 lakh people had called up and 10 were to be selected. The chance of the same person getting through twice to the final round of 10 contestants is minimal. But at least five persons made it twice since the show ' discontinued now because Bachchan is unable to shoot ' started in August last year.
India TV also charged that though KBC rules barred employees of BSNL and MTNL, which are service providers, from entering, nine BSNL employees and one MTNL employee contested.
The channel said it was alerted by an avid “KBC scholar” from Udaipur who recorded every episode. He was disgruntled that he had never succeeded in getting through, like others who keep trying to enter the show that can fetch up to Rs 2 crore in prize money.
A report also suggested the alleged malpractice was the reason why Bachchan was not shooting for the remaining episodes, not his ill health.
STAR has denied the allegations. It said Bachchan had said “due to medical reasons, he is not in a position to confirm shooting dates for the next few months”, following which the decision to end the current season of KBC was taken.
On a contestant appearing twice, STAR said the rules allow that. “Only if the participant has made it to Hot Seat is he disqualified from subsequent participation,” it said.
Of the five contestants who made it twice, four went on to win prizes ranging from Rs 20,000 to Rs 12.5 lakh. The fifth could not make it to the Hot Seat even on the second attempt.
STAR also said BSNL and MTNL were “national telephony service providers” and were not restricted entities, according to the show’s rules.
It added that the selection process was “validated by one of the world’s leading audit firms, KPMG”.
Nair said the network was deliberating on returning with the third season of KBC “after taking this break”.
But India TV claimed things are not what they seem. Chintamani Rao, CEO, said: “It is simply a matter of mathematical probability. As the numbers get funnelled down from up to 25 lakh to 500 to 100 to 10, with a combination of skill, quotas (on zones, age and gender) and random selection at each stage, the probability of one person making it twice is near zero.”
It also said KBC rules stipulated exclusion of BSNL and MTNL employees.
“Employees of the company, the producers of the programme ‘Synergy Communications Pvt. Ltd,’ the advertising agency which has been appointed from time to time, and all sub-contractors and agents rendering services in respect of the Competition, any sponsor; and members of their immediate family' are ineligible to enter the Competition,” the KBC rules state.
About the telephone services involved, the rules state: “Calls made by Contestant(s) from BSNL and MTNL telephone lines only shall be considered as valid entry.”
India TV said it was alerted after it got a call from Bharat Kumar Lodha in Udaipur. He is a cashier in Dena Bank and follows the game show in every detail, recording every episode in “ledger format”.
The channel said it did not know how the competitors were chosen twice.