Television

Indian English news channels boycott BARC's viewership monitoring

MUMBAI: In a coordinated move, the English TV channel news members of the News Broadcasters Association (NBA) have decided to pull out of Indian viewership ratings monitor Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC). As of 7 pm today – India Today, Times Now, News X, CNN News19, and NDTV 24x7 – have stopped inserting the BARC water mark in their TV signals from their studios.

This follows BARC CEO Partho Dasgupta’s decision to publish Republic TV’s viewership data today despite the NBA urging it to refrain from doing so on account of the members’ belief that it had allegedly resorted to massive multi LCN placement of the channel on various MSOs/DPOs and cable TV networks nationally.

The latest viewership data showed that Republic TV had gone on to capture more than 52 per cent of the viewership.

The five channels have stated that they have written to BARC in the past about the alleged abuse and tampering of its monitoring methodology and have received a standard response which has been almost indifference to their concerns. And the snub by the ratings agency this morning was the last straw, hence they decided to pull out of the watermarking.

Sources state that the five channels would like an assurance from BARC that it will only report the data after Republic TV stops allegedly messing around by placing itself in multiple genres and LCNs.

Additionally, they would like an assurance from the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) that the MSOs and DPOs have totally cleaned up their acts and placed Republic TV only in one genre and LCN.

As the five will not be part of the monitoring from BARC, its next week’s report could end up showing that Republic TV has maximum viewership of the Indian English news genre with international news channels such as BBC, CNN and Al jazeera also picking up. (Updated on 19 May 2017 at 3 pm)

Indiantelevision.com placed a call to the BARC spokesperson but received no response at the time of writing.

Questions that arise from this fracas around the ratings and the news channels boycott: How long will this faceoff continue? Will BARC blink first? What currency will advertisers use to decide on which shows and channels to advertise on in the English news genres? Why does it seem like déjà vu? Did the industry err by backing BARC and pulling the shutters down on TAM’s viewership ratings? Will the TRAI or MIB now step in to ensure that some sanity comes into the news channel business (many dread this)? Or will BARC step back and heed the request of the members of the NBA?

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