What BARC's temporary cessation of news channel ratings means for all

BARC's TechChomm review of how news channels are measured & the data secured will take 8-12 weeks

MUMBAI: With all the hullabaloo around the news TV space and allegations of rigging flying thick and fast, the viewership monitor BARC has decided to take a breather as far publishing of  weekly ratings of the purveyors of news is concerned. This temporay cessation  could impact the overall industry - especially advertisers and those involved in the news business. More so because advertisers and agencies will not have access to the de facto ratings cuurrency that allows them to price the air time and TV spots they buy from the news channels.  

The committee has shared its point of view on why it has taken such a step. Excerpts:-

Why has BARC India taken the step of not reporting news channels? 

In the light of the recent developments, the BARC board has proposed that its technical  committee (Tech Comm) review and augment the current standards of measuring  and reporting the data of niche genres, to improve their statistical robustness and to  and to significantly hamper the potential attempts of infiltrating the panel homes.  This exercise would cover all Hindi, regional, English news and business news channels  with immediate effect.  

Therefore, starting with the ‘News Genre,' BARC will cease publishing the weekly  individual ratings for news channels during the exercise. This exercise is expected to  take around eight to 12 weeks including validation and testing under the supervision of  BARCs TechComm. The monitoring service will continue to release weekly audience estimates for the  news genre by state and language. 

Which genres will be affected by this change?  

The decision will initially impact all Hindi, regional, English news and business news  broadcasters. BARC will continue to provide estimates for the overall news genre  every week by state and language.  

For how long will the data not be available for news channels?  

The BARC TechCom  will revisit the rule sets of niche genres to improve their  statistical robustness and to significantly hamper the potential attempts of infiltrating  the panel homes. Starting with the news genre, BARC would stop declaring the individual  channel ratings for news channels while this reworking of the rule sets is being done.  This exercise would take around eight to 12 weeks including validation and testing under the  TechComm's supervision. BARC will keep its stakeholders updated as it  augments these processes.  

Which data and analysis will not be possible or will not be available because of the withholding of ratings? 

The withholding of ratings will, inter -alia, will lead to non – availability of the following  viewership variables for impacted channels: 
• Impressions  
• Daily reach  
• Average Time Spent (ATS)  
• Cumulative reach  
• Rating % 

Since these variables will not be available, analysis such as viewer movement and  behavioural track analysis will not be possible.  

However, the above details will be available at a genre level.  

Will BARC be collecting and processing data for impacted channels during  this period? Will the individual channel data be released post this period?  
BARC will continue to collect and process data for the impacted channels. BARC's TechComm  will advise a protocol for release of individual channel data,  post its work on niche channels.  

Will playout data be collected during this period for the impacted  channels? 

Yes, playout data will be collected for the impacted channels during this period. 

Will Spot Trek service be impacted due to this withholding of ratings?  

BARC will continue to confirm spot – related data to its Spot Trek subscribers.  There will be no impact on the Spot Trek service.  

Are the numbers released by BARC inclusive of the impacted news  channels?  

The data for news channels will still be included in the audience estimates for  aggregate such as total TV. It is only the audience estimates for the individual  channels that will be masked. 

What data will be reported for the impacted news channels?  

BARC will continue to release audience estimates for the overall news genre every  week by state and language. However, channel–wise data will not be released.  

I am not a news channel. Why has my data been withheld?  

Individual news channels audience estimates will not be reported. The genre  classification is determined by “Policy for Genre Classification of TV Channels” as last  updated in September 2019 and as updated on the BARC website. This classification is  updated on a quarterly basis.  

As per the BARC policy on genre classification, a TV channel is classified as a news  channel, when more than 60 per cent of the TV Channel content for a given week averaged  across a calendar quarter from 6:00 Hrs. – 26:00 Hrs. consists of news and news- related  content. 

Are genres other than news genres also going to be impacted?  

The BARC TechComm will review and augment the current  standards of measuring and reporting the data of niche genres, to improve their  statistical robustness and to and to significantly hamper the potential attempts of  infiltrating the panel homes. 

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