BARC has been a big letdown; broadcasters should get out of it: Uday Shankar

Without getting into the TRP scam controversy, Shankar said that the unhealthy obsession for ratings has led to this degradation

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Published: Feb 17, 2021 5:39 PM  | 3 min read
Uday Shankar

Former Star-Disney India chief and FICCI president Uday Shankar has suggested that the broadcasters should get out of Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) for all the shame that it has brought to the industry. Shankar, who played a key role in setting up BARC, has also said that the audience measurement body has been a huge letdown.

"I played a key role in bringing down TAM and setting up BARC. I think BARC has been a huge letdown but I don't think it was a letdown because broadcasters, agencies, and advertisers were stakeholders in this. It was a letdown because we did not have a vision that was in tune with the possibilities of the 21st Century," Shankar told Madison Media & OOH Partner and Group CEO Vikram Sakhuja in a fireside chat after the unveiling of Pitch Madison Advertising Report 2021.

"The controversy that just involvement in BARC has created for broadcasters they should just get out of that, it's not worth it. It is not worth it for all the suggestions of impropriety that broadcasters have faced. By and large, broadcasters are clean business people and they have done a good job of serving their customers," he further stated.

When Sakhuja asked Shankar whether broadcasters should be kept out of the measurement system, the latter shot back by saying that keeping one or the other stakeholder out will not serve any purpose. He also stated that the proclivity to distort the system will remain the same irrespective of who is involved in the measurement system. "Who owns it I am totally indifferent to that," Shankar retorted.

Shankar also said that he is not in favour of a third-party measurement. "I am not in favour of this third-party measurement structure because look at the kind of distortion and anomalies we have created in this country. It is almost alarming if not dangerous if you see what is happening in the name of data."

Without getting into the TRP scam controversy, Shankar said that the unhealthy obsession for ratings has led to this degradation. "This whole current controversy without going too far into that. The whole degradation that we are seeing whether it is in the news or other controversy is on account of our unhealthy obsession with ratings."

Ratings, he said, are a business tool for engagement between media owners and media buyers. "We need a currency so that you know what you are getting for what I am selling. Over the years, we have turned this into a measurement of our machismo. The rating success became a be-all and end-all not of your business existence but your entire existence and that is unhealthy and that has led to sometimes tactical and sometimes distorted and corrupt practices and inadequate focus on the long health and strategy of the business."

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