10 Takeaways from the recent NBA-Republic-BARC face-off

05 Jun,2017

 

By Pradyuman Maheshwari

 

The last fortnight has seen many developments on the English news broadcast front, which was decidedly the most forgettable episode in recent media history. MxMIndia has been on the forefront on reporting these and also commenting on them. We believe that as a mature voice of the industry, it is important that we should comment on issues, and even if it means that we are the only ones in the business doing so.

 

Now that the dust is beginning to settle on the controversy, we list here 10 takeaways from the episode:

1. The IBF has curiously been very quiet on the entire development. We are sure (and hope) it’s been working in the background, but a public statement would’ve ensured that we know that IBF, as the apex body of broadcasters, is non-partisan on the issue.

2. The NBA issued a statement on Friday, but there was no remorse or regret on opting out of BARC’s measurement system. This even a day after BARC chairman Sudhanshu Vats issued a statement which said: It is unfortunate that some members have taken issue with the use of multiple LCNs when many have themselves set the precedent for it – either as a promotional or as a defensive tactic.

3. Multiple LCNs isn’t the only inorganic booster employed by the broadcast fraternity. Landing pages are looked at by not just the newswallahs, but the general entertainment channels too. There needs to be a standard policy for all such inorganic measures for boosting viewership.

4. Republic TV is not yet a member of the NBA, the apex body of news broadcasters, which is also recognised by the government. The NBA has also promoted a self-regulatory body – the NBSA. That Republic isn’t a member of the body doesn’t augur too well for both. And most importantly given its non-membership, Republic is not subject to a self-regulatory mechanism. This could work against it in the short and long run. In case it chooses not to join the NBA, Republic must have its own ombudsman and self-regulator.

5. NBA must cease to be seen as partisan. Its statement issued on Friday, specifically points to Republic, which is a non-member and has been serious competition to some key NBA members like Times Now and India Today. The heads of both these organisations are the two top NBA officebearers. Even though the CEOs of both networks are seasoned and respected professionals, there have been doubts expressed about NBA not being exactly neutral in this episode.

6. Most of the key news channels are members of the IBF. The IBF and NBA must enforce the rules laid by BARC on advertising on all its members. Perhaps either of the bodies must have a ‘fair play ranking’ like the IPL has, with a roster on how members have been faring on certain parameters

7. BARC has been forgiving and not imposed its own ruling of reprimanding channels that remove the watermark. By doing so, it has possibly lost an excellent opportunity of telling erring channels/networks that what they did was incorrect. Now just in case a single channel or a group does something similar in future, it will have to condone that act too!

8. Going to the TRAI and MIB for stuff is not good. These are things that broadcasters must settle amongst themselves. But by according TRAI a key role in their lives, the broadcasters  – the newswallahs in particular – could well be playing with fire

9. The secretariats of the various industry associations must be made stronger and with people who can deal with things independent of their elected masters. That’s the only way associations will be considered neutral and that’s the only way in which industry associations can be relevant.

10. Lastly, in love and as in war, there are no permanent friends and enemies. In fact often the two sentiments can co-exist. As we saw in the current episode where at one level India Today and Times Now had combined forces on Republic TV’s multiple LCN deployment and on another India Today complained against Times Now for also deploying multiple LCNs. Imagine if Republic was also a member of the NBA… there could’ve been one complainant…

 

Pradyuman Maheshwari is Editor-in-Chief and Founder, MxMIndia. The views expressed here are his own

 

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