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Ratings & Regulation: Co-regulation discussed; BARC back on horizon

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Ratings & Regulation: Co-regulation discussed; BARC back on horizon

The CII put together a closed door discussion between the members of the Indian broadcasting industry that comprised the likes of Jawahar Goel, President, Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF) and MD, Dish TV India Ltd; Sameer Manchanda, President, News Broadcasters Association (NBA) & JMD, IBN18 Broadcast; Uday Shankar, CEO, STAR India; Amit Khanna, Chairman, Reliance BIG Entertainment; and Puneet Goenka, Director & CEO, Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd, along with the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, where various members, including MIB Minister Ambika Soni, were present for the meeting.

The full-day discussions were done with the intention of deliberating some of the key industry issues threadbare that have become causes of concern over the last few years. Two key points that were discussed were audience measurement and content regulation.

Self-regulation, Industry regulation, Co-regulation

The MIB Minister said at the meeting that she wanted to put a system that would completely resolve the issue of content regulation and maintained the Government stance of not interfering in regulation. What was agreed was a three-tier approach, where the first was self-regulation at an individual channel level. The next tier was about industry regulation that was exercised by industry bodies such as the IBF, NBA, and even the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI).

The third level suggested was of setting up an autonomous body that would be created to uphold television content values and ethics. Members present at the meeting informed that this body could be designed on the likes of Election Commission that was a Government recognised independent body. This co-regulation body, too, would see the support and backing of the Government. However, how this body would function was not specified. Aspects such as the funding of the body, the office bearers, terms of office, change in office bearers, the composition of the kind of members, the required backgrounds of these members and the ratio in which they should be present were still not clear.

BARC is Back

The industry members assured in all seriousness that they would get the BARC functional in the next couple of weeks. BARC, as some of the industry people may recall, was first announced in 2007 and was touted as the next generation of ratings. The first Chairman of BARC was Pradeep Guha and then it was Chintamani Rao. BARC had managed to gather both industry attention and support to the extent that the IBF had even set aside Rs 2 crore to make BARC functional, and the deadline set was January 2009.

BARC, however, was then put on the backburner and nothing was either said or discussed on the subject. Some industry observers blamed media climate and some blamed the slowdown for BARC’s disappearance from all industry conversations.

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