A day after the Indian government directed BARC India to immediately release the audience data for TV news channels, NBF expressed ‘disappointment’ on the unavailability of viewership numbers, while another news body, NBDA, said its earlier stand on suspension of data ‘stands vindicated’.
Appreciating the reforms undertaken by audience measurement company BARC India and additional ones proposed by the government, the News Broadcasters and Digital Association (NBDA) Thursday said, “We will continue to work with all stakeholders on refining the Outlier Policy to eliminate statistical anomalies and increasing the sample size to strengthen the credibility of data.”
NBDA also gave a thumbs-up to the reforms that are “being undertaken to make the processes, protocols and oversight mechanism at BARC India more robust”.
“It is heartening that the Ministry (of Information and Broadcasting) acknowledged that the ratings system for TV news had deficiencies and took note of the suggestions made by NBDA. The reconstitution of the BARC Board and the Technical Committee to allow for the induction of independent members, along with the setting up of a permanent oversight committee, are all steps in the right direction,” NBDA said.
The statement from NBDA, formerly known as News Broadcasters Association, added that after the unearthing of the TRP scam by Mumbai Police in October 2020, it had asked Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) India to overhaul its systems before resuming the release of TV news ratings.
Backing the MIB’s decision to set up a Joint Working Group under the chairmanship of Prasar Bharti CEO Shashi Shekhar Vempati to explore leveraging Return Path Data (RPD) from set top boxes to add to the robustness of viewership numbers, NBDA said there was “still room to make systems more transparent, robust and reliable”.
“BARC should also evaluate ways to enhance data security and ensure that there is no manual intervention at any step in the ratings process. We hope before any ratings are released, these measures are in place,” NBDA elaborated.
CEO of TV9 Network and News Broadcasters Federation (NBF) vice- president Barun Das said, “I welcome the government’s decision to finally resume ratings for the news genre. I have for long been advocating the need to restore ratings while questioning the suspension decision in the first place. NBF’s efforts in this direction have been exemplary. The decision to have ratings now onwards on a four-week rolling average concept is the need of the hour.”
NBF Disappointed Over Withholding of News Genre Ratings: The News Broadcasters Federation (NBF), claiming to be the largest congregation of news broadcasters, on Thursday expressed its disappointment over BARC India withholding the television ratings for the news genre, “despite clear directions from the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting on Wednesday to resume release of ratings with immediate effect”.
“The audience viewership data is with BARC and withholding it despite clear instruction from the Ministry, is not necessary. BARC should comply and release the ratings of news channels without any further delay. If there are news channels that don’t want ratings they can be voluntarily exempt,” NBF said in a statement issued yesterday.
The NBF explained that BARC India had paused the release of audience ratings for news genre for over 16 months, since October 15, 2020, which had caused financial hardships to its member news channels.