IBF sets ball rolling, gets BARC registered for TV research

NEW DELHI: The first major step towards nation-wide audience research was taken today with the Indian Broadcasting Foundation announcing the formal registration of the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) which is expected to begin work within the next few months.

The BARC has been set up as a joint venture between the IBF and the Indian Society of Advertisers on a 60:40 ratio and initial investment of Rs 300 million.

Subsequently, every channel which wants to receive the ratings would have to subscribe to the BARC, the format of which would be decided by an eight-member Technical Committee headed by the ISA and having an equal representation from both the IBF and the ISA.
The registration of the BARC under Section 25 of the Companies Act 1956 was announced at a joint meeting addressed by IBF President Jawahar Goel, ZEEL managing director Punit Goenka, Star India CEO Uday Shankar, Times Television Network managing director Sunil Lulla, Star CJ CEO Paritosh Joshi, and Network18 Group CEO Haresh Chawla.

Noting that BARC will not conduct audience measurement directly and instead will commission independent specialist research vendors, Goenka said that requests for proposal will be invited and he could not deny that Tam, which presently covers 8000 homes, may also be one of the vendors.
Preliminary clearance has been received from the concerned authorities and the necessary formalities for incorporation of members and operations are expected to be completed over the next few weeks.

The primary objective of BARC is to conduct and commission market research using appropriate research methodologies, to provide accurate, up to date and relevant findings relating to broadcast audiences, including TV Ratings, "without fear or favour in a completely transparent, sustainable and objective manner."

With the formation of BARC, the quality and scope of TV audience research in the country will get upgraded, the findings will be more robust and financials more transparent, Goel said.

Answering a question, Shankar said BARC, which was modeled on the lines of the UK-based Broadcaster’s Audience Research Board (BARB), may draw from the final report of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India when it comes.

Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni had recently said the Trai report on BARC was expected around September.

Goenka said after the Technical Committee finishes its work, there will be a base line study of rural and urban India to see the methodology for measuring audience research.
Goel said all broadcasting modes – Terrestrial, Cable & Satellite, DTH, analogue and digital platforms, developing and new platforms such as IPTV and Mobile TV - will be covered in the research. Though no decision had been taken on who will head BARC, the chairman will be a director of the IBF. The Board of the council shall initially comprise seven members, four members from the IBF and three members from the ISA.

A professional corporate executive team headed by a CEO will be responsible for running the council. The CEO and executive team shall be responsible for the conduct and management of BARC including requesting industry inputs, contracting process, developing service standards and guidelines in conjunction with the technical committee, coordinating operational requirements, maintaining quality standards, financial affairs, and technological development.

BARC shall shortly engage in extensive industry consultations with stakeholders, specialist research consultants, existing & potential measurement service providers to identify the key concerns and requirements with regards to audience measurement. This may be followed by an R&D exercise to evaluate potential solutions including technologies & techniques.

BARC will put forth an “Audience Measurement Blueprint” for audience measurement in India. The blueprint will capture key concerns, requirements and a proposed roadmap to the new measurement service.

The research parameters shall be regularly updated so as to reflect developments in delivery platforms, growth in viewership, while ensuring financial viability of the service. A key activity would be to identify and use technology capable of capturing data over different platforms and constant up-gradations of the same as required.

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