The Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) has paused the measurement of television viewership ratings of news channels for a period of twelve weeks. Welcoming the decision, the News Broadcasters Association (NBA) said it was a bold move.
According to the decision, BARC will not publish the weekly individual ratings for all news channels during the period. This would include all Hindi, Regional, English News and Business News channels with immediate effect. The BARC, however, said it will release weekly audience estimates for the news genre by state and language. This exercise is expected to take around 8-12 weeks including validation and testing under the supervision of BARCs Tech Comm.
“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," NBA President Rajat Sharma said.
“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 said.
Citing the "most recent developments", Punit Goenka, Chairman of BARC India Board, said the 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.
“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," Sunil Lulla, BARC India CEO said.