The Coronavirus pandemic is arguable the biggest ‘story’ for journalists and news channel in this decade. A pandemic that has engulfed all countries of the world and at home in India, it has caused over 5000 positive cases with tens of deaths. Other than the scale of tragedy that has been unleashed on the world, there are several other underpinnings to this story as well, such as the role of China, WHO and here in India, the role of Tablighi Jamaat. Most news channels have approached these aspects of the story in accordance with their ideological inclinations. While some shielded China and the Tablighi Jamaat, others exposed them threadbare. When there is a story of global importance to be told, there are also TRP wars that news channels indulge in invariably. In this regard, Rahul Kanwal declared himself and his channel India Today victorious with a thumping pat on his own back today. Taking to Twitter, Rahul Kanwal first said that viewers are spending twice the time on India Today (according to BARC) as they do on their competition’s, and their ‘competition’ would obviously mean channels like Times Now and Republic.
Following that assertions, Rahul Kanwal said that “Bloated egos and noise factories can polarise but they can’t report on a fast moving story”.
The obvious reference of Rahul Kanwal’s tweet was Republic TV and Arnab Goswami. Several elites in the news industry, who invariably align with Left-wing politics, refer to Republic TV as a ‘noise factory’ and Arnab Goswami as someone with a bloated ego. The reference was also clear because Kanwal used his self-congratulatory tweet to slam “polarisation”, which essentially would mean that Rahul Kanwal and India Today disapprove of the manner in which Republic TV has taken it upon themselves to expose the nefarious designs of Tablighi Jamaat, that led to the spread of Coronavirus in India.
Further, Rahul Kanwal claimed that Aaj Tak and India Today were “number 1 this week”.
Today again, Rahul Kanwal took to Twitter to declare that India Today was the reigning supreme as far as English News Channels were concerned.
Rahul Kanwal seems to feverishly compete with Arnab Goswami and Republic, week after week, by declaring repeatedly that India Today has far more viewers than Republic TV and that their form of news is far more ‘insightful’ compared to Arnab Goswami.
However, when one looks at the BARC data, Rahul Kanwal’s self-laudatory tweets ring hollow and dishonest.
What BARC Data sys – Who is ahead, India Today or Republic TV?
Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) India is a Joint Industry Company founded by stakeholder bodies that represent Broadcasters, Advertisers, and Advertising and Media Agencies. Every week, BARC comes up with several combative charts that tell people which channel is ahead of its competitors in different genres, like English News, Hindi News etc.
It is pertinent to note that Rahul Kanwal congratulated himself on the 9th April and then again on the 23rd of April. So approximately, we must look at data right from the 28th of March up until 17th of April to ascertain if Rahul Kanwal is lying and misleading his viewers when he claims that India Today is the heavyweight champion in the English News category according to BARC. For the data from 17th April onwards, we will have to wait for another day, but it is unlikely it would differ too much from the preceding 3 weeks.
When one looks at the BARC data, it becomes extremely clear who the reigning supreme channel is in the English News category, and it is Republic TV, led by Arnab Goswami all the way.
From the 28th March 2020 to the 3rd of April 2020, according to BARC, Republic TV had a substantial lead over India Today. In fact, Times Now was second to Republic TV and India Today was a distant third.
Week 14 (4th April to 10th April) was worse for India Today. While Republic scored 1896, India Today scored only an 866, slipping to the number 4 spot.
It is pertinent to note that Rahul Kanwal had congratulated himself first on the 9th of April. As evident from the BARC data, he was lying if he was talking about the previous week (Week 13) or the current week as the per tweet (week 14). India Today was nowhere close to Republic TV on these two weeks.
The next tweet by Rahul Kanwal is on 28th April. Though this week’s numbers are yet to be released, the preceding week, Week 15, from 11th April to 27th April show that India Today is way behind Republic TV.
It remains to be seen what the data for Week 16 states and whether India Today has truly overtaken Republic. But it is pertinent to note that since the first week of its inception, Republic TV has consistently occupied the number 1 spot per the BARC Ratings.
As far as the Hindi News channels go, India Today’s Aaj Tak is certainly the number 1 channel by a mile, however, Republic also features in the top 5, which is a relative feat for a new channel in the Hindi News segment.
It thus begs an important question – Is Rahul Kanwal truly brazen enough to lie about data that is available for public consumption or does he not know that BARC publishes its viewership data on its website, available for anyone to analyse?