Is BARC all set for broadcasters and media agencies in Kolkata?

KOLKATA: While Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) seems all set to formally launch its much-awaited television audience measurement system in phase wise manner starting April, broadcasters and media agencies have begun to pull out from TAM India. If industry sources are to be believed, broadcasters like Star, Zee, Discovery, Star Sports, India TV and NDTV have already sent their termination notices to TAM.

Regional media broadcasters specifically in West Bengal, however, have their own viewpoints. In Kolkata, broadcasters and media agencies expect to get a fair report with the introduction of BARC’s new TV ratings measurement system.

At a time when agencies and broadcasters in Mumbai have already sent letters to TAM informing them that they are either not extending their subscription after 31 March, 2015 (in case their current subscription is expiring on that date) or terminating their subscription with the stipulated one-month notice period (in case their subscription runs till 31 December, 2015), Kolkata-based agencies and broadcasters have not yet got any detailed report on the pricing and policies of BARC.

“BARC authorities came to Kolkata for one road show and with the lack of interest shown from people here and the absence of proper feedback, it hasn’t taken much initiative in Kolkata,” a city-based advertising agency executive said on condition of anonymity.

Zee Entertainment Enterprises controlled 24x7 Bengali news channel 24 Ghanta will pull out from TAM along with the network’s others channels, said an executive from 24 Ghanta, adding that almost all channels in India are likely to do that. “With the arrival of BARC, it would make an even equation for all the stakeholders,” the channel executive added.

When queried about the expectations from BARC, the executive said, “No tampering is possible as BARC will provide a wider audience reach. We also expect scientific and more detailed findings from untapped rural areas.”

On the other hand, Aakash Aath director Eshita Surana said, “We have yet not decided, whether we will continue with TAM or no. We have not yet got the pricing policy from BARC.”

However, Surana went on to add that the company has high hopes from BARC.

On the initiatives being taken to establish strong communication, BARC CEO Partho Dasgupta said, "We have been constantly communicating through our newsletters, press interactions. website, twitter, roadshows and meetings. Pricing model details are on the website and all CEOs who watermarked the channels have been written to individually."

BARC, in the past three weeks, has been seeing an increasing rush from smaller broadcasters, both national and regional, who are now getting watermarked.  

Speaking about expectation from BARC, a Kolkata-based GEC executive said that BARC’s report will at least not bring Kolkata TV’s teleshopping show in the top 20 programme list.

Moreover, the number of peoplemeters that TAM had installed was 10,000 whereas BARC will be starting with 20,000 and then plans to gradually scale up the number by 10,000. “This will ensure more representation and data from these peoplemeters that will enable a more accurate understanding of stickiness, preference and even demography of every segment of viewers. BARC will even provide zip-code wise data on ratings, which will help advertisers in choosing the right TV channels to reach out to their TG,” brand and communications expert Mahul Brahma added.

A media buying executive said that all stakeholders, including the media agencies, have invested in the new BARC system, and it is natural that all should move to this audience measurement system. “BARC is a joint industry body, and we are part of the industry. We believe that BARC will have a more accurate and better measurement. Our preference would be to go with the measurement which is more robust, transparent and accurate,” he said.

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