I&B Ministry asks BARC not to resume news ratings till examination into TRP system is concluded: Report

Prime News, National, New Delhi, February 24:-The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, in a letter to the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC), has asked the joint-industry body to maintain status quo on TV ratings for the news genre until examination into deficiencies in the existing TRP system gets concluded.

“As you are aware that a committee was constituted by this ministry, dated 04.11.2020, under the chairmanship of Shashi Shekhar Vempati, CEO, Prasar Bharati, to study and examine the deficiencies in the existing TRP system and propose technological advancements/interventions for further strengthening of the procedures for a robust, credible and transparent rating system. The committee has since submitted its report which is under examination. In view of the above, BARC is directed to maintain status quo as at present,” a report by exchange4media quoted MIB Under-secretary P Nagarajan saying in the letter, dated February 15.

I&B Ministry’s letter comes a few days after an industry body of regional and some national channels, News Broadcasters Federation (NBF), approached Union Minister Prakash Javadekar and sought his intervention in resuming the data. The NBF had complained to the Union minister saying the complete absence of ratings was ruining the economy of news channels as it was causing heavy monetary losses.

“We are stakeholders in BARC. Data measurement is the lifeline of our broadcast industry. In the past too, there have been incidents of manipulation but shutting it down is not the solution. The improvements can only happen while the data flows continuously. It’s an ongoing process of improvement. We are humbly requesting you to urgently intervene,” exchange4media quoted from the letter sent by NBF to the I&B Ministry.

“How do we sell ourselves in the absence of currency? Why blackout only news genre data? Several brands have started to ignore news channels as they don’t have ratings to attract them,” a senior industry member associated with NBF said.

Unlike the NBF, the News Broadcasters Association (NBA), which comprises all leading national news channels, has not raised any such demand so far. However, they have written to BARC enquiring about the ‘cleansing processes’ which should be undertaken in the three months of the blackout period and demanded an explanation of the concrete steps that have been taken by it to secure the ratings.

Among the issues raised by the NBA were demands to “bring transparency to the process and create a system whereby any changes to the ratings that impact the news ecosystem is done only after due consultation with a BARC sub-committee of NBA nominees” and “explain what penal actions are provided for in the BARC constitution against broadcasters who have indulged in manipulation of ratings of this magnitude and what action will be taken in the current case.”

The NBA board has expressed its displeasure over the controversy saying the corrupt data released month after month has not only led to reputation loss but has also caused huge financial losses to news broadcasters.

-(NAV, Inputs: Agencies)

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