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Govt directs IBF, AAAI & ISA to submit BARC roll-out plan

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NEW DELHI/MUMBAI: The government on Tuesday directed broadcasters, advertisers and advertising agencies to submit a detailed plan for making Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) functional soon.

The directive was given by the Secretary in the Information & Broadcasting Ministry Uday Kumar Verma during an hour-long meeting with Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF), Advertising Agencies Association of India (AAAI) and Indian Society of Advertisers (ISA) in New Delhi, convened to give a strong push for BARC.

“The ministry instructed the constituent members of BARC to submit a time-table outlining the next steps in the roll out of BARC. But the deadline for the submission of this time table has not been given,” said Arvind Sharma, Advertising Agencies Association of India (AAAI) president and Leo Burnett chairman and CEO of India subcontinent.

I&B Ministry officials said Verma stressed at the meeting that the matter of BARC was gaining importance in view of the New Delhi Television Ltd’s (NDTV) lawsuit in New York against television ratings by TAM Media Research. NDTV has alleged that TAM and its owners Nielsen and WPP subsidiaries Kantar and Cavendish have knowingly failed to act against corruption in TAM’s television ratings system.

According to the scheme of things, BARC would be an apex entity for measuring television viewership ratings in India. It will appoint and monitor service providers like TAM providing on-ground services for measuring television ratings.

The secretary also expressed dissatisfaction that the responsibility of setting up BARC was given to IBF but there has been no progress after it was registered in July 2010.

The ministry officials said IBF president and Star India CEO Uday Shankar gave an assurance to the I&B secretary that “the three bodies have come together now and will speedily set up BARC”.

When AAAI and ISA were asked about the status of BARC, their representatives said they had approved the articles of association of BARC and it was for IBF to take it forward now. IBF’s Shankar then informed the meeting that the document is yet to be approved by the IBF board and once it is done, IBF will get back to AAAI and ISA at the earliest, according to the officials.

Apart from AAAI’s Sharma and IBF’s Shankar, among those who attended the meeting were IBF Treasurer and Zee Entertainment Enterprises managing director and CEO Punit Goenka, Lodestar UM CEO Shashi Sinha, Draftfcb+Ulka executive director Nagesh Alai, RK Swamy BBDO chairman and MD Sundar K Swamy and Nestle India VP communications Virat Mehta.

AAAI’s Sharma told Indiantelevision.com that “The meeting was held with specific focus on the progress of BARC. The AAAI and the ISA informed the Secretary that the two bodies have approved and given the Articles of Association to the IBF and are waiting for a revert on the same.”

Earlier this year, I&B Minister Ambika Soni had told parliament that BARC would be functional soon and its first ratings would be released by July 2013.

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