Television ratings agency BARC (Broadcast Audience Research Council) has decided to suspend its weekly ratings of TV news channels for a period of three months to review and augment the current standards of data amid a controversy surrounding its viewership data, for TV news channels, which includes, Hindi, Regional, English News and Business News Channels with immediate effect.
Regarding the same, Punit Goenka, Chairman of BARC India Board said in a statement, “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 India said, “We at BARC take our role in truthfully and faithfully reporting ‘What India Watches’ with the greatest sense of responsibility and work with integrity to ensure that our audience estimates (ratings) remain true to their purpose.”
He added, “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.”
The News Broadcasters Association (NBA) has also welcomed the decision of the BARC.
President Rajat Sharma said in a statement, “Recent revelations have brought disrepute to the measurement agency and by extension the broadcast news media. The corrupted, compromised, irrationally fluctuating data is creating a false narrative on What India Watches and has been putting pressure on our members to take editorial calls that run counter to the journalistic values and ideals of journalism. The current atmosphere of toxicity, abuse and fake news is no longer tenable and NBA as the custodian and guardian of Indian broadcast media believes a bold step of putting ratings of news genre on hold will help in improving the content.”
He added that for many years NBA has been highlighting its concerns about the veracity of TV viewership data, which have been prone to irrational fluctuations, and the recent events have shown that there is much more at stake than just the news channels’ popularity. He added that a healthy and vibrant TV news industry is vital to Indian democracy.
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