It’s incorrect to blame us on BARC delay, say ISA & AAAI

03 Aug,2012

 

By A Correspondent

 

With news network NDTV suing television measurement body TAM Media Research and its principals, it’s become critical that stakeholders of the proposed Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) get their act together to provide an adequate framework for research and ratings.

 

For, if industry bodies do not act speedily, the government could well step in. It was hence interesting to read IBF president Uday Shankar’s assertion that the apex bodies of advertisers (ISA) and ad agencies (AAAI) have been speedbreakers in the setting up of BARC.

 

Nagesh Alai

This statement of not showing enough urgency has not gone down too well with the Advertising Association of India and Indian Society of Advertisers. Said Nagesh Alai, former AAAI president and current ex-officio member: “It is unfortunate that such a comment has been passed. At the end of the day, who are the constituents of the industry? The advertisers, broadcasters and advertising agencies and each of them have a role to play. When all of these are stakeholders, how is it possible that ISA and AAAI will be uninterested in moving BARC forward? The fact remains that we have been engaging with them regularly and have come to an agreement on what the constitution of the shareholding would be; what should be the constitution of the board of governance and what should be the operating principles. All these have been captured in the draft of Memorandum and Articles of BARC, which is with the IBF.”

 

He added: “We’ve met and agreed in principle on the key issues and have put down those things in the document as it is very necessary to start off. It is lying with them now. As I see it, it is work in progress. There is no question of us not being interested or not wanting to take this forward – how can it be? It is just not a rational statement. Just to recall, three years ago, AAAI was one of the prime movers on BARC – it was our idea.”

 

On the current status of the draft, Mr Alai said: “As of now, the Memorandum and Article document that needs to be signed by all stakeholders is with IBF. All the recommendations in the draft have been taken jointly by the three member bodies. It is just the question of whatever is there in the draft is seen and accepted by them and we sign and move on from there. As I see it, it would take another one or two months for the signing process to take place; it all depends on how soon IBF responds now. But let me tell you that we will continue to work in partnership so that we are able to come up with a system that is robust and liked by all.”

 

Meanwhile, when asked for its standpoint on the issue, the ISA reverted with the following statement: “The Indian Society of Advertisers, who initiated the formation of BARC based on the World Federation of Advertisers’ best practice of forming a Joint Industry Body (JIB) for television audience measurement, would like BARC to start tomorrow. We would not like to join the blamegame, as a joint industry body BARC is necessary for robust and transparent TRPs. As for NDTV versus TAM issue, we cannot comment on it as the case is still sub judice.”

 

Bharat Patel

When contacted, Bharat Patel, past chairman of Procter & Gamble and chairman of ISA admitted to BARC facing some tough times but said that it will be back on track soon. “There have been ups and downs but you must understand that this is a new baby and it is bound to take a long time. Also, there are huge investments involved. But then it should happen soon,” he said.

 

On the IBF president’s statement holding the ISA and AAAI responsible for the slow progression, Mr Patel said: “It is incorrect. It’s got nothing to do with the AAAI or the ISA. As I said, these things take some time. We have reached a stage where we are finalising the articles and once that is done it should move fast.”

 

“One must also realise that people have their own job/business to cater to,” Mr Patel added. “One has to have enough time on hand as people who are involved in BARC have their own jobs to look at too. For me, the real issue is that people are not finding the time to get together. I cannot give a timeframe at this stage as I cannot speak on behalf of other people but then it will happen soon. In fact, ISA wants to get started with it from tomorrow itself as we were the ones who initiated the global best practice JIB by the name of WFA. But you will see it happening soon.”

 

While the statements from AAAI and ISA reiterate the commitment to the cause of setting up a credible measurement metric, it’s critical for the trio of IBF, ISA and AAAI to put aside differences and work amicably to safeguard the future of the industry. The ball for now is in the industry’s court. If it doesn’t act fast enough, the government could also be an active participant.

 

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