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3 Reasons why news industry is miffed with BARC

Top industry leaders highlight the limitations of the current measurement process

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NEW DELHI: The recent TRP manipulation scam has reopened old wounds that news channels and Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) had been mending. The genre had never been absolutely satisfied with how the authority is measuring ratings and the recent sequence of events has once again brought the matter to the fore. At the recently concluded News Television Summit hosted by Indiantelevision.com, several speakers from the news world pointed out the errors that they feel BARC is making in measuring news TRPs. Here is a comprehensive overview:

1.  Incorrect Sample Size

Zee News CEO and editor-in-chief Sudhir Chaudhary pointed out, “I think the main problem with BARC ratings is that the sample size is so small. Statistically speaking, we are a 32,000 crore industry and BARC has its meter in just 44,000 homes. As we traditionally say that of the overall sample size only 10 per cent watch news, we are left with just 4,400 boxes, which is very less for a huge market like India.”

2.  Incorrect Data Points 

ABP News Network CEO Avinash Pandey, who has been an open critic of the BARC measurement systems, stated that he’s against the minute-by-minute stock market-like analysis of news shows, where BARC points out at what precise moment the TRP took a jump. According to him, this is prompting all the news channels to run a similar sort of programming and picking up a similar tone with its stories. He said, “Until and unless BARC effectively manages the impact of news, and not just the number of people watching the channel for a certain time, unfortunately, we all will be in the rat race of chasing the ratings and it will destroy our businesses, people’s lives, and our country.”

3.  Improvement Needed in the Backend

Times Network MD & CEO MK Anand stated, “From what I’ve seen in the last four years, fixing the back-end of the measurement mechanism is required. BARC CEO Sunil Lulla has been trying to bring a lot of sense to the process. He has been continuously improving it. But whether it is inside BARC or outside, there are people who break ranks and resort to corrupt means. We have seen them use shortcuts to get to the numbers and that is not acceptable.” 

According to the industry, these drawbacks have also degraded the quality of programmes that news channels are running these days. They highlighted that the blind contest for maximum TRPs has prompted news outlets to run similar shows with little to no differentiation, which in turn is harming the industry as a whole. 

While BARC under Sunil Lulla is making strides in streamlining the measurement process for the better, there are still loopholes that need to be filled. 

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