Sunil Lulla completes an eventful year at BARC; spotlight on stakeholder management

On his anniversary of being appointed as BARC chief, e4m looks back at some of Sunil Lulla's most notable moments from the year gone by

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Updated: Oct 23, 2020 10:18 AM
sunil lulla

It's been a year since Sunil Lulla took over the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC). His tenure has been an eventful one with the organisation witnessing many key developments that could profoundly impact the industry. As the CEO, Lulla has deftly skippered the organisation, taking on some of the most arduous challenges on the way. 

An industry veteran with over 35 years of experience across media, digital, music, advertising and the FMCG space, Lulla was elected as BARC chief when its former CEO Partho Dasgupta stepped down. On his anniversary of helming the TV audience measurement company, we look at some of his most notable moments at BARC from the year gone by.

Months after he took charge, Lulla had to tackle interference from Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) and its set of recommendations for BARC India. After the regulatory body raised concerns of transparency within BARC, Lulla took a determined stance.

He most notably remarked: “We are doing a good job. We’ve got that proof not only from the people in the media but from many other sources, including the government. TRAI had put out a consultation in 2018 and BARC was a party to that. We had made our submission but TRAI did not carry this out in the manner in which we did. So we’ve always believed that what we do is statistically relevant, scientific and based on technological robustness. We work really well with the three constituents of advertisers, agencies and broadcasters. We are a business body and nowhere in the world is a business body as integrated as it is here. It’s not influenced by any government. We operate it fairly independently and that is what we do.”

Under his leadership, BARC India made some important decisions including to mitigate the impact of landing on TV viewership or suspending ratings of news channels amid the on-going issue of TRP. The organisation also won plaudits for pausing rating of TV news channels for three months in the light of the controversy.

“We at BARC take our role in truthfully and faithfully reporting ‘What India Watches’ with the greatest sense of responsibility and work with integrity to ensure that our audience estimates (ratings) remain true to their purpose”. He added, “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. 

Also this year in partnership with Nielsen India, BARC India released a 11Editions- a detailed report on the ‘Crisis Consumption on TV and Smartphones’. 

For Lulla, the year has been challenging also on a personal front when he was tested positive for COVID back in July. He not only made a full recovery but also pledged to donate his plasma for anyone in need. 

In a freewheeling conversation with e4m back in July, he spoke extensively about his experience with the illness:  "I always believe that you should speak about it and not hide it. And you should be open about it.”

When the nation went into a lockdown, Lulla took decisive steps to ensure that work goes on as usual while ensuring the safety of BARC employees: “We follow the protocol of only X number of people, which is defined by the government. So despite the fact that as a media as a part of essential service, we could do a hundred percent occupancy, we chose not to do so. We have to release the currency data every week, and I don't think in all our contingency planning, we would have envisaged that a day would come when we would have to switch out so fast.”

A year in the office, Lulla has come to embody the spirit of: "Tough times don't last, but tough people do." On the occasion, we at e4m wish the best for him in the years ahead. 

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