Over 50 TV news channels write to MIB over suspension of TRPs

The decision has destroyed the economy of news, states the letter.

New Delhi: As many as 50 news channels have written a letter to information and broadcasting minister Prakash Javadekar expressing concern over the continued suspension of television rating points (TRPs) by Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC), and appealing for its immediate resumption.

“Ratings for all news channels must be released with immediate effect,” the news channels urged the Union minister, highlighting their distress and how the developments and decision of the past few months have threatened the livelihood of lakhs of employees. “The complete absence of ratings has truly destroyed the economy of news,” the letter read.

BARC had suspended its weekly ratings of TV news channels across languages in October 2020 for a period of three months, amid the raging controversy over manipulation of TRPs by certain channels.  “A pause was necessitated to enable the industry and BARC to work closely to review its already stringent protocols and further augment them to enable the industry to focus on collaborating for growth and well-natured competitiveness," BARC India chairman Punit Goenka had said at the time of the decision.

The letter signed by R Bharat, Republic TV, News X, MH1, Khabar Fast, India News and a host of regional news channels petitioned the ministry of information and broadcasting (MIB) to intervene so that BARC can start publishing ratings for the news genre in pendency of the investigation, so that livelihoods can be saved

The letter also requested the MIB that if weekly ratings are problematic to publish, then an alternate system to publish ratings can be brought out to restore advertiser confidence in the news-genre. It requests MIB's intervention so that channels are "not forced to shut down operations despite having done no wrong” and “news organisations do not face extinction due to corporate and conflicting interests."

The channels stated that the initial time-period for the suspension was three months, yet there is no sign or sight of the return of broadcast ratings to the news genre, “now the very survival of our news channels is at stake.” The letter reiterated that the channels are ready for any changes of BARC. The channels also highlighted that there have been incidents of manipulation in the past too, but shutting weekly data down is not the solution. The improvements can happen when the data flows continuously.

The TV9 Network also wrote to Javadekar, questioning BARC’s decision to single out news channels for the suspension of TRPs. “Advertisers are getting increasingly suspicious about the news genre and it is likely that the revenue of news channels might shrink, leading to more job losses,” wrote TV9 CEO Barun Das.

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