News channels started to celebrate BJP's victory even before the party proved its majority
News channels started to celebrate BJP's victory even before the party proved its majority | Representational image | Flickr
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New Delhi: Television ratings agency BARC (Broadcast Audience Research Council) has decided to suspend publishing of weekly individual ratings for channels in the news genre.

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

The decision comes a week after the Mumbai Police claimed that Republic TV and two other channels have been manipulating television rating points (TRP) data.

Also read: All about Fakt Marathi and Box Cinema — two TV channels named with Republic in ‘TRP scandal’

Weekly individual ratings for news channels suspended

In a statement released Thursday, the BARC said the decision has been taken in the light of the recent developments.

The BARC Board, the statement said, has proposed that its technical committee should review and augment the current standards of measuring and reporting the data of “niche genres,” to improve their statistical robustness 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,” it stated.

The BARC will suspend publishing the weekly individual ratings for all news channels during the exercise, which is expected to take around 8-12 weeks including validation and testing under the supervision of BARC’s Technical Committee, but “will continue to release weekly audience estimates for the genre of news by state and language”, the statement added.

The statement quoted Punit Goenka, Chairman of BARC India Board as stating that given the most recent developments, “the BARC Board was of the opinion that 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”.

Sunil Lulla, CEO, BARC said that besides augmenting current protocols and benchmarking them with global standards, BARC is actively exploring several options to discourage unlawful inducement of its panel home viewers and further strengthening its Code of Conduct to Address Viewership Malpractice.

Also read: How media has hit the self-destruct button in Arnab’s Republic-vs-other TV channels war

Past complaints

Over the years, several private entities have lodged police complaints over fraudulent TRP data.

In a paper on television audience measurement and ratings this year, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) had acknowledged the issue, saying incentives are provided to people in the panel homes for watching a particular channel that would affect ratings.

“Panel infiltration has a significant impact when the panel size is smaller. Increase in panel size, reduces the impact of infiltration of panel homes on ratings,” TRAI had said.

Also read: Why TRPs are important for broadcasters, and are also prone to ‘manipulation’


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