The sole subject of a closed-door hour-long meeting between industry stakeholders comprising IBF (Indian Broadcasting Foundation), ISA (Indian Society of Advertisers) and AAAI (Advertising Agencies Association of India) and the MIB (Ministry of Information & Broadcasting) and top officials of Prasar Bharati turned out to be the BARC (Broadcast Audience Research Council).
From MIB Secretary Uday Kumar Verma to Prasar Bharati’s Jawahar Sircar to the Presidents of the Associations, all top officials were present at the meeting that took place in Delhi on September 4, 2012 to push the way forward on the decided new TV measurement system in India.
While the meeting comes on the back of NDTV’s lawsuit against TAM Media Research and its parent companies alleging corruption amongst other things at TAM, the controversy barely found a mention in this meeting. MIB officials did enquire industry’s views on NBA’s (News Broadcasters Association) request to suspend TAM ratings but the broad view, from advertisers and agencies specially, was that while the industry was keen to strengthen TV measurement and help clean flaws of the system, suspending data was not a solution.
The key agenda of the high-powered meeting was getting BARC off the ground at the earliest. MIB officials indicated to the three associations that further delay of BARC was not in the best interest of the industry and that it was advisable for the industry to complete the signing of agreements that have already been initialled by IBF, ISA and AAAI and make BARC operational.
MIB has asked the three Associations to also give an action plan over the next few days on the specific steps that would be taken to launch BARC, the first of which would be completion of signing the Articles of Association.
The general take-away from the meeting was that MIB’s message was loud and clear – there is disappointment on things being slow in context to BARC. IBF that owns 60 per cent of BARC, ISA and AAAI that own 20 per cent each must push the matter in an extraordinary manner now and action should be visible.
BARC is designed to be the apex body for TV measurement that will appoint research agencies to contribute to the ratings system in India. Unlike now, when TAM Media Research plans the nature of data it will furnish, devises the on-ground mechanism to gather data, process and interpret it, BARC will divide the complete process between various organisations. Some industry observers pointed out that this will also minimise chances of corrupting a system since multiple companies would be involved in the procedure.