Television

BARC India formally sets up independent council to probe viewership malpractices complaints

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MUMBAI: BARC India has set up an independent disciplinary council to further strengthen transparency and credibility of its measurement system.

The six-member BARC India Disciplinary Council (BDC) will investigate and address complaints related to viewership malpractices and tampering of BARC India’s measurement system.

The BDC will be headed by Punjab & Haryana High Court's former chief justice Mukul Mudgal and has former Mumbai police commissioner and DGP Maharashtra D Shivanandan and independent technical expert Paritosh Joshi as its members. Viacom18 group general counsel and company secretary Sujeet Jain, GroupM South Asia CEO CVL Srinivas and GCPL AVP corporate legal Pankaj Phadnis are the other members, representing the three stakeholder bodies - IBF, AAAI and ISA.

BARC India has already set up a vigilance team to probe viewership malpractices complaints, as well as investigate abnormal viewership data recorded from BARC India panel households. The new council will independently examine vigilance team reports, and where culpability is clearly established, it will be empowered to order punitive action appropriate to level of offence. The action could range from written warning and a fine for first level offence, to suspension of viewership data for three months, leading up to termination of BARC India’s contract with the subscriber.

Alongside setting up of the high-level BDC, BARC India has re-drafted terms of the contract it signs with its subscribers. This has been done to address limitations in the current End User License Agreements (EULA) and strengthen legal provisions that will allow the BDC to act against viewership malpractices. The updated EULA will soon be circulated to all BARC India subscribers, and they would be required to sign them.

“The BDC is a step forward in our commitment to ensuring transparency, and eradicating this long existing malpractice of panel tampering. We hope to build further credibility in our processes and systems under guidance of Justice Mudgal. The independent council will also benefit from the advice of a seasoned law enforcement expert like Shivanandan, and the continued support of industry stakeholders,” said BARC India CEO Partho Dasgupta.

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