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BARC suspends TRP system for 12 weeks

by Raju Vernekar
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By Raju Vernekar
New Delhi, Mumbai:

The Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) has decided to suspend the measurement of television viewership ratings of all news channels for 12 weeks and rework the system of awarding TRPs to different TV channels including Hindi, English and Business channels. 
BARC stated in a release that starting with the ‘News Genre’, it’ll will cease publishing the weekly individual ratings for “all news channels”. The News Broadcasters’ Association (NBA), which represents the news broadcasters, said the suspension is an important step in the right direction. This exercise will cover all Hindi, regional, English news and business news channels with immediate effect. 
“This exercise is expected to take around 8-12 weeks including validation and testing under the supervision of BARCs Tech Comm. BARC will continue to release weekly audience estimates for the genre of news by state and language,” BARC said. 
The NBA has welcomed the decision, saying BARC should use these 12 weeks to completely overhaul its systems and restore the credibility of the information it collects about “what India watches. “Recent revelations have brought disrepute to the measurement agency and by extension the broadcast news media. The corrupted, compromised, irrationally fluctuating data is creating a false narrative on What India Watches and has been putting pressure on our members to take editorial calls that run counter to the journalistic values and ideals of journalism,” NBA chief Rajat Sharma said. 
While explaining the need for this move, BARC India Board Chairman Punit Goenka, said: “Given the recent developments, the BARC Board was of the opinion that a pause was necessary to enable the industry and BARC to work closely to review its already stringent protocols and further augment them to enable the industry to focus on collaborating for growth and well-natured competitiveness”.  
BARC CEO Sunil Lulla said the body takes its role in truthfully and faithfully reporting ‘What India Watches’ with the “greatest sense of responsibility”. “Besides augmenting current protocols and benchmarking them with global standards, BARC is actively exploring several options to discourage unlawful inducement of its panel home viewers and further strengthening its Code of Conduct to Address Viewership Malpractice,” he said. 
It may be recalled that the controversy erupted when the Mumbai based Hansa Research Private Limited, an agency appointed by BARC, came across instances of some of its ex employees engaged in inflating TRP ratings by paying TV viewers money to keep their TV sets on, whether they watched the programs/bulletins or not. At had had also installed barometers in the households unauthorisedly. 
Subsequently a case was registered with Kandivali Police in North Mumbai and 5 persons were arrested, including one Vinay Tripathi (arrested from Uttar Pradesh), financing these activities and the cases were registered against TV channels-‘Republic TV’,’ Fakt Marathi’ and ‘Box Cinema’. The people connected with these channels are being interrogated by Mumbai Police.    

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