Unhappy over the NBDA’s efforts to further delay restoration of audience measurement data for the news genre, TV9 Network has withdrawn from the TV news industry body, arguing the move is in the best interest of the overall news segment and seeking partial refund of the membership fee.
In an open letter addressed to the board of the News Broadcasters & Digital Association (NBDA), TV9 Network CEO Barun Das expressed his dismay over attempts by the industry body to “raise doubts” over BARC India data, while aiming to further delay the data release for the news genre.
“We, TV9 network, a full member of NBDA, do not subscribe to this view of NBDA Board. This seems to be a viewpoint of select members of NBDA and certainly not that of (the) entire NBDA,” Das said in the letter addressed to NBDA secretary-general Annie Joseph.
On Wednesday, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting directed Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) India to resume with immediate effect data for TV news channels, which had been suspended since October 2020 after allegations of irregularities. Next day, the NBDA issued a statement lauding the government move, but suggested “BARC should evaluate ways to enhance data security and ensure there is no manual intervention at any step” in the ratings process. “We hope before any ratings are released, these measures are in place,” the news body had added.
Through the press release issued yesterday, TV9 alleged, NBDA has tried to raise doubts about the robustness of the data.
“The question to be asked is whether NBDA considers itself outside of the entire TV industry? If the same transparency — the same robustness — is yielding data for all other genres, why would it (data) be wrong only for the news genre?” TV9 has asked.
TV9 Network is also a member of News Broadcasters Federation (NBF), an industry body formed a few years ago, which elected Republic Media Network’s Chief Editor Arnab Goswami as its president. Das is a vice-president in NBF.
Arguing in favour of dropping the NBDA membership, Das said, ” I have been trying to reason with NBDA repeatedly but to no avail. On the contrary, NBDA has been expressing views in public, on the most critical issue pertaining to (the) news genre, which I am complete in disagreement with. Therefore, I am left with no option but to withdraw from NBDA with immediate effect.”
MIB’s decision directing BARC India to resume audience measurement data for the TV news channels came after it studied a report of a committee it had set up last year to evaluate the whole measurement eco-system, along with regulator TRAI’s earlier recommendations on the issue and sustained efforts of several news channels, who worked with various stakeholders.
Putting his decision to withdraw from NBDA, formerly known as News Broadcasters Association, in context, Das said, “As a full member of NBDA, we have tried to reason with NBDA repeatedly but to no avail. I am not sure whether NBDA actually wants the ratings to resume at all. The latest NBDA communication only makes a bad situation for the News Industry worse.”
Pointing out that “stalling” the viewership ratings has “imperiled the news genre viability from a revenue perspective”, Das said, “I see this as an unfair trade practice. The news genre is being put to disadvantage as more and more advertisers threaten to walk out. Here again, genuine interests of the news TV industry are being compromised.”