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After India Today ‘Fake TRP scam’, BARC to pause weekly television ratings of news channels and review current standards of measuring viewership

The review exercise by audience rating agency BARC comes amidst the ongoing controversy over the fake TRP scam by various news channels and media network, who have been accused of manipulating TV ratings by paying households to watch their channels.

Amidst the ongoing controversy over media networks allegedly manipulating their TRP ratings, especially by the likes of India Today, the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC), which measures TV audience ratings, has decided to halt estimating audience rating the news channels, reports Exchange for Media.

In a statement released by BARC, the audience measuring agency has said that their technical committee will now review and augment the current standards of measuring and reporting the data of niche genres to improve their statistical robustness.

The BARC said that it would cover all Hindi, Regional, English News and Business News channels ratings in the new exercise with immediate effect. 

Hence, BARC will now stop publishing the weekly individual ratings for all news channels as they review their rating system. The exercise, which is expected to take around 8-12 weeks, will include validation and testing under the supervision of BARCs technical committee.

Meanwhile, BARC will continue to release weekly genre level audience estimates by state and language, the rating agency 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,” Punit Goenka, Chairman of BARC India Board said.

Sunil Lulla, the CEO of BARC India, said that BARC takes their role in truthfully and faithfully reporting ‘What India Watches’ with the greatest sense of responsibility and work with integrity to ensure that the audience estimates ratings remain true to their purpose.

The review exercise by audience rating agency BARC comes amidst the ongoing controversy over the ‘fake TRP scam’ involving various news channels and media network, and the subsequent attempt by Mumbai police to shield the accused news channels and instead target Republic TV.

The full press release from BARC announcing the decision is given below:

BARC TO PAUSE AUDIENCE ESTIMATES (RATINGS) OF NEWS CHANNELS  

Genre Level Ratings, by State and Language to Continue

Mumbai, October 15, 2020. In the light of the recent developments, BARC Board has proposed that it’s 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”.

Says 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”. 

‘Fake TRP’ scam

Last week, Mumbai CP Param Bir Singh, in an explosive statement had accused Republic TV of ‘TRP manipulation’. In a witch hunt attack against Republic TV and Arnab Goswami, the Mumbai Commissioner had claimed, that the channel had illegally paid some households to keep some channels on even if they were not at home to boost their TRP.

The Mumbai Police had filed a complaint against three channels namely Fakt Marathi, Box Cinema, and Republic-TV for manipulating television rating points (TRPs). 

However, by the end of the day, it was revealed that in the original FIR, Republic TV did not find a mention anywhere. In fact, it was India Today that had been named in the original FIR. Later, the Joint Commissioner had to admit even India Today was named in the ‘Fake TRP’ FIR.

Following this development, Republic TV also accessed the complaint filed by Hansa Research, the agency that manages the BARC bar-o-meter devices installed at panel houses, which had shown that they had mentioned India Today, not Republic. After that, Mumbai Police is continuously hounding and harrasing the channel to know from where they accessed the report, while they have effectively burried the case against India Today.

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OpIndia Staffhttps://www.opindia.com
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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