A day after the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) pulled up television channels for listing themselves under multiple genres (LCN,) Sudhanshu Vats, Chairman of BARC called it a welcome step in the right direction.
“It provides all market players with the much-needed clarity and clearly spells out the regulator’s view on the issue. Once again, TRAI has taken the ‘consumer lens’ and ensured that they remain at the centre of the discourse,” he said.
The news surrounding the use of LCNs by English news broadcasters dominated the industry in last two weeks. The development led to news channels pulling out of BARC on May 18. Vats was out of the country and had not spoken on the issue thus far.
“As the dust settles on the matter, three key truths have been proven: the first pertains to BARC and its methods to measure what India watches. In that context, it is safe to say that watermarking is a modern, robust technology that has held the industry in good stead. In record time, BARC has earned a fair share of its currency of trust and all its stakeholders are committed to its mission, including the IBF which backs it in entirety. To be frank, it was wrong to drag BARC into the issue in the first place,” he said.
Making an oblique reference to Times Now and India Today that have used LCNs in the past and raised fingers at Republic for doing so, Vats expressed his displeasure at the way the issue was handled. “The second truth requires us to introspect as an industry. It is unfortunate that some members have taken issue with the use of multiple LCNs when many have themselves set the precedent for it – either as a promotional or as a defensive tactic,” he stated.
He also discouraged the parties from taking the matter to court and recommended that the issue be resolved by creating consensus.
“Moving forward, all market players must create consensus internally rather than squander away valuable time of the courts. Our shared credibility as an industry should never be dented, especially not by our own actions. Finally, as we look towards a ‘multi-screen future’, Total Audience Measurement (i.e. measurement of content consumption across devices including handheld, desktop, TV, etc.) will become the norm. In such an environment, all content players will look at innovative ways to increase their reach and sampling while focusing on delivering winning content. This is the new normal that we all need to prepare for. I’ve always thought of our industry as a large family, with members who often quarrel but eventually come together. This time will be no different,” he said.