NBF stringently decoded the reply letter from BARC’s CEO Nakul with a word-by-word interpretation and questioned the vague nature of his reply that singled out News genre alone.
“Paragraph 4 of your reply mentions, “the exigent circumstances prevailing”. This is a very vague and evasive answer to the question WHY only the news genre? What are the “exigent circumstances” you refer to? In the same paragraph you talk about “…. reviewing and augmenting the existing standards of measuring and reporting BARC India data – which for us is a continuous and evolutionary process”. If that is the case, why did you have to stop reporting data for only the News Genre while doing something which is a continuous process (that too stalling it for one full year, as against an initial estimate of 8-12 weeks)?,” the letter stated.
The letter alleges that Chopra’s claim that the decision to suspend the viewership ratings was in consultation with the News Broadcasters Federation (‘NBF’) is not just factually incorrect, but is also a complete concoction and misrepresentation of the truth.
“At the outset, there is a fundamental falsehood in your claim that the decision to suspend the viewership ratings was in consultation with the News Broadcasters Federation (‘NBF’). This is not just factually incorrect, but is also a complete concoction and misrepresentation of the truth. This brings us to two fundamental and core issues: Who and Why?” the letter read.
Chopra in his reply mentioned that the decisions are steered entirely by the guidance and feedback from the ‘industry’.
“The first question is WHO? Who specifically forced BARC to pause the viewership reports for News Channels? And Who is the so-called “INDUSTRY” that you mention. Is it (this so called “industry”) represented by individuals or a body which bears a name and identity? Or is it a completely faceless and nameless force that is working overtime for the past year to make sure that the report for news channels doesn’t come out at any cost? It is imperative that you share the specifics,” the letter from NBF stated.
The letter further stated, “As you are aware, the NBF represents a large number of national and regional channels and is recognised by the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, Government of India, as a self-regulatory body for news channels, and not once was there a single consultation or conversation with the NBF. It is equally important to get to the bottom of this “WHO” question because a large section of the industry feels that only a select few broadcasters, hiding behind the amorphousness of “THE INDUSTRY” , are against ratings being released even after one year. It is important to dig deep and introspect if these WHOs — posing as self-proclaimed industry representatives — have some selfish business interest to keep the ratings suspended, while causing immense damage to the industry as whole.”
The critical question therefore is who influenced you? Are these individuals/organisations shareholders in BARC and do they also happen to be on the board of BARC? If this is true, it establishes a complete violation of corporate governance and a deep conflict of interest suggesting an unacceptable level of cartelisation.
The second question is WHY only the news genre?
“WHY were the ratings stopped only for the news genre which constitutes but a measly 12% of the total television viewership? Why is the genre that constitutes 88% of the viewership taking your viewership reports based on the same people-meters and the same methodology? WHY is the process vitiated only with respect to the news genre? Have the so-called stakeholders/industry participants & domain experts given you any explanation ON RECORD for WHY only the News Genre is being victimised?” the letter read.
The letter from the NBF again insisted that, In the interest of the industry, which is well represented by the NBF, that ratings for News Genre be released IMMEDIATELY with improvements made so far. This will help the industry salvage some losses during the festival period. Further paragraph 8 of your response mentions “that the additional time taken has been extensively used to test the solution that has finally been developed, and that our Measurement Science team, along with the BARC India Tech-Comm, are fully confident that it addresses the key issues they had been tasked with to resolve”. So please release the data for the news genre in the coming week, without any further delay.”
The letter further requested BARC to parallelly answer the WHO and the WHY questions as stated above so that the nation at large and the news TV industry in particular get to know the reason behind such discrimination against us at the cost of our business and credibility. We would continuously engage with these WHOs to address their obviously baseless WHYs. But ratings should come out next week.
“You expressed your gratitude in paragraph 9 for “the patience all the stakeholders have shown”. However, it is stated that we have not been patient. We have been on pins and needles from day one as there was no logic to suspending ratings for just the News Genre. Our impatience, agony and pleadings of our industry for fair play have fallen on deaf ears so far. “
The letter further read, “BARC must also deeply introspect on how it can no longer work with ONLY a small group of channels in Delhi who falsely claim to be representatives of the Indian news ecosystem and disregard the strong and diverse voice of broadcasters across India. BARC should and must immediately reflect on whether it has allowed itself to be guided by such a group and in that done the biggest disservice to the news broadcast industry as a whole. Once again, we urge BARC to be fair with our industry and not to single out the News Genre. We request you not to penalise the industry, possibly to only safeguard the interests of a select few organisations claiming to be the voice of our industry.”