BARC to pause ratings of news channels

15 Oct,2020

By A Correspondent

(this story is based on two communiques… propah report coming up)

 

In the light of the recent developments, BARC Board has proposed that its Technical Committee (Tech Comm) review and augment the current standards of measuring and reporting the data of niche genres, to improve their statistical robustness and to significantly hamper the  potential attempts of infiltrating the panel homes. This exercise would cover all Hindi, Regional, English News and Business News channels with immediate effect.

 

Therefore, starting with the ‘News Genre’, BARC will cease publishing the weekly individual ratings for all news channels during the exercise. This exercise is expected to take around 8-12 weeks including validation and testing under the supervision of BARCs Tech Comm. BARC will continue to release weekly audience estimates for the genre of news by state and language.

 

Explaining the need for this move, Punit Goenka, Chairman of BARC India Board said, “Given the most recent developments, the BARC Board was of the opinion that a pause was necessitated to enable the industry and BARC to work closely to review its already stringent protocols and further augment them to enable the industry to focus on collaborating for growth and well-natured competitiveness”.

 

Added  Sunil Lulla, CEO, BARC India: “We at BARC take our role in truthfully and faithfully reporting ‘What India Watches’ with the greatest sense of responsibility and work with integrity to ensure that our audience estimates (ratings) remain true to their purpose”. He added, “besides augmenting current protocols and benchmarking them with global standards, BARC is actively exploring several options to discourage unlawful inducement of its panel home viewers and further strengthening its Code of Conduct to Address Viewership Malpractice”.

 

Meanwhile, the News Broadcasters Association has welcomed the 12-week suspension of TV ratings. NBA, which represents a large section of news broadcasters, believes that the suspension is an important step in the right direction.

Said Rajat Sharma, President, NBA: “Recent revelations have brought disrepute to the measurement agency and by extension the broadcast news media. The corrupted, compromised, irrationally fluctuating data is creating a false narrative on What India Watches and has been putting pressure on our members to take editorial calls that run counter to the journalistic values and ideals of journalism. The current atmosphere of toxicity, abuse and fake news is no longer tenable and NBA as the custodian and guardian of Indian broadcast media believes a bold step of putting ratings of news genre on hold will help in improving the content. For many years NBA has been highlighting its concerns about the veracity of TV viewership data, which have been prone to irrational fluctuations. Recent events have shown that there is much more at stake than just the measurement of news channels’ popularity. Indeed, a healthy and vibrant TV news industry is vital to Indian democracy. We expect that the period of suspension will be utilised to implement important reforms at BARC. To safeguard the integrity of viewership data, human intervention in its collection and processing must be totally eliminated. Data security, including encryption and restricting access to key information, must be ensured. Complaints, if any, should be dealt with in an independent and transparent manner. NBA also expects greater consultation and openness when important decisions are taken by BARC.”

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