Mumbai: News Broadcasters Federation (NBF), the government recognised industry body, has written to newly appointed BARC CEO Nakul Chopra demanding to resume the release of Audience Measurement Data for the news genre, which has been unilaterally withheld for almost a year.
“As the only industry body representing the business interest and editorial freedom of news TV channels, NBF strongly iterates to be included and consulted on all issues surrounding the release of TRP data for news genres,” the letter read.
NBF also raised their concerns and sought urgent attention on the issue.
“In the first place, there was no legitimate reason or rationale for a pause in ratings for one specific genre. If the process of BARC is faulty and is being reworked, the entertainment and other genres which contribute 88% continue to get the rating data,” the letter read.
The industry body alleged that the news genre, which constitutes only 12%, has been victimised, though the metering boxes and data collection is standard for all genres.
The letter further read, “Argument of BARC on the margin of error being higher for the news genre because of smaller sample size compared to that of GECs defies statistical logic since the sample size for niche genres is far lesser compared to the news category, but BARC has not paused the ratings for those niche English channels.”
“Unilateral decision of BARC lacks any legitimate reason or rationale for singling out the news genre to pause release of audience measurement ratings, from October 15, 2020. Almost one year has passed, and still no clarity on the way forward,” alleges NBF in the letter.
NBF is cognisant of the fact that a few entities who chair the board of a so-called “Industry body” are gratifying their self-interest by seeking a further pause in ratings, thus putting the more extensive industry welfare at stake. These handfuls of national channels had dropped in pecking order just before the ratings were stalled. However, since ratings were delayed, they have held onto their competitive advantage in advertising rate.
“As a matter of fact, out of the 400 news channels in the country, a vast majority are not members of such an industry organisation. Even their member news channels do not subscribe to the idea of a pause in ratings. It, therefore, seems that the entire purpose of this vested interest group is to block ratings using all the means necessary to protect their own revenue potential against channels that had gained in viewership in recent times. BARC should consider this,” the letter stated.
BARC, as an industry body, should not give in to such vested interest. If few news channels have high levels of mistrust and scepticism about BARC’s people and process, BARC could decide that those specific channels who do not want the ratings to be released be excluded, and the ratings should be released for the rest of the channels of the news media industry in the best interest at large.
The letter also said that the pause in ratings had caused substantial financial distress and severe economic loss to the news genre.
“In addition, news broadcasters are losing the viewers’ trust, and the advertisers are increasingly suspicious about the actual performance of the channels. It is to be noted that News broadcasters generate one of the highest direct and indirect employment for both skilled and unskilled workers.
BARC’s continued silence on the issue of TRP data, for the past one year, is threatening the very survival of over 400 news channels, putting in jeopardy the employment of hundreds of thousands of media professionals and their livelihoods” the letter stated.
The letter reiterated and strongly urged BARC to include NBF as the key stakeholder in all discussions, deliberations and decision-making process.