So who did the ‘keeda’ on BARC with the MIB?

06 May,2015


By Your Editor [updated]

The issues with the information and broadcasting ministry have been resolved. According to a tweet by BARC CEO Partho Dasgupta, the data will be released at 3pm today.

Some of those very people who would flock to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting against TAM are now seeing their prized project BARC (short for Broadcast Audience Research Council) getting outwitted by the MIB.

MxMIndia has had a simple, one-line view on this: The government must have no role in audience measurement.

Not many moons ago, some of the private channels – the news channels specifically – would go to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting asking for it to intervene on a variety of issues.

At that time, many in the world were against TAM. NDTV took TAM and its parent to court. The allegation was that TAM’s measurement was flawed and there was corruption in the system. Or so it appeared because that’s precisely why some of the channels which the intelligentsia thought were superb didn’t score well on the ratings roster. The story is not dramatically different for some of the elite channels in the BARC regime.

But this is not about the ratings of the English and assorted news channels. It’s about the role of the government in ratings and the tendency of channel-owners to go to Shastri Bhavan for all and sundry requests.

Indulging the government is like playing with fire. Our government has enough dirt to clean as part of its Swachh Bharat campaign. Leave the dirt of the industry to the stakeholders themselves and to market forces.

The government must step in only if players go out of hand or there is a cartel leading to unfair trade practices where the public suffers.

In the case of print, where the players are benefactors of DAVP-issued advertising largesse, it looks away from readership survey imbroglios.

For now, the industry must find who got someone in the ministry to point out a minor procedural flaw in the way things work. Frankly, with all the contacts that some of the BARC top deck has, this could’ve been taken care of.

Perhaps they didn’t think much about it, and rightly so. The government has no business to get involved. And not even issue any advisories. There are enough checks and balances, and in a sense until TAM exists, there is no clear monopoly for BARC.

Meanwhile, TAM has issued a statement: “For TAM Media Research, weekly TV Viewership  data release to the Industry will continue as normal. Pursuant to the interim order issued by the Hon’ble High Court of Delhi on Feb 12, 2014, 1.7(a), 1.7(d), 16.1 & 16.2 of impugned guidelines have been stayed till the disposal of the Writ Petition 494/2014 (Kantar Matter).”

At the time of writing (10.15am), one learns that the Minister of State has been spoken with and he has promised to intervene. So BARC data will get released by the afternoon.

So all those souls in media agencies and TV channel offices who came in early to the offices to do the analysis, our commiserations.

Meanwhile, the BARC folks would do well to find out who did the ‘keeda’ to unearth the licence bogey. And ask its constituents not to flock to the mantrijis for all and sundry. Keep them at bay!


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