Even as the Indian government asked BARC India to resume handing out audience data for Tv news channels with ‘immediate effect’, it also announced formation of a committee, with stakeholders’ representation, to explore ways to capture data from STBs (return path data) to make the eco-system more robust.
A section of the news industry, led by News Broadcasters Foundation (NBF)’s president and Chief Editor of Republic Media Arnab Goswami hailed the government decision as a ‘big win’. Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) India had suspended over a year back release of audience data pertaining to TV news channels, following allegations of manipulations and other irregularities.
“It has been decided to constitute a Joint Working Group to study different aspects of the data capturing, including Return Path Data (RPD) in context of the audience measurement, international practises, security of the viewership data, etc.,” MIB said in a statement, adding it expects a report from the committee within four months.
The ministry further added that the proposed panel could study “successful global best practises in RPD”, the models/ pilots undertaken by BARC India, and other “independent experiments by DTH operators and other relevant stakeholders” to formulate a mandate for combining the data sources with the existing sampling methodology.
At present, BARC India depends on about 44,000 boxes to collect data. In a submission in the past to a consultation paper floated by regulator TRAI, the audience measurement company had suggested tweaking of existing laws to help neutralize attempts of data manipulations.
The Joint Working Group on various matters relating to audience measurement will be headed by Indian pubcaster Parasar Bharati CEO S.S. Vempati, with representation from Ministry of Electronics and IT, Bureau of Indian Standards, BARC India, DTH Association and MSO body AIDCF.
“Happy that exactly a year later the recommendations of the TRP Committee Report have been accepted by @MIB_India…Looking forward to achieving cross industry consensus on use of Return Path Data (RPD) for TRPs,” Vempati, who had chaired the panel set up earlier to look into overhauling of the audience measurement ecosystem in the country over a year back, tweeted yesterday evening.
‘Release TV News Ratings With Immediate Effect’: Pointing out that BARC India has undertaken an overhaul of its systems, as suggested by Vempati committee and TRAI to make data collection more transparent and robust, MIB said: “…(it has) asked BARC to release the News ratings with immediate effect and also to release the last three months data, for the genre in a monthly format, for fair and equitable representation of true trends.”
MIB further noted in a statement: “BARC has undertaken revision in its processes, protocols, oversight mechanism and initiated changes in governance structure. The reconstitution of the Board and the Technical Committee to allow for the induction of Independent Members have also been initiated by BARC. A permanent Oversight Committee has also been formed. The access protocols for data have been revamped and tightened.
“BARC has indicated that in view of the changes undertaken by it, they are reaching out to related constituencies to explain the new proposals and are in readiness to actually commence the release as per the new protocols.”
As per the revised system, the reporting of the news and niche genres shall be on a ‘four week rolling average concept’, MIB elaborated.
Industry Reactions: NBF and Republic Media Network’s Goswami welcomed the government directives, calling it a ‘big win’ for the NBF.
“We know which way this will go, and the people of the country know. People of the country know that there was a conspiracy against Republic TV, which Lutyens channels participated in…We are really excited and looking forward to the release of ratings. The largest body of the NBF, a group of 70 channels, stood together and fought hard,” Goswami was quoted as saying in a report on Republic’s website.
According to Vikas Khanchandani, Group CEO, Republic Media, the company was “extremely pleased” that the ratings were commencing again.
“It’s important to provide transparency to advertisers and agency partners, and absence of data has been a huge concern. The ratings will help the genre to bring incremental business from brands that have been under indexing advertising investments,” he added.