Broadcasters’ body ask TRAI to make ratings non-compulsory for govt ads

During an open house discussion organised by TRAI, AINBA president said broadcasters do not believe that advertisers give ads on the basis of ratings

e4m by Nishant Saxena
Updated: Jun 1, 2018 9:00 AM

The All India News Broadcasters Association (AINBA) has contended before the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) that BARC ratings should not be mandatory for TV channels to get government ads as it is an “unnecessary compulsion” on its member channels.

AINBA is a body comprising owners of over 20 small and medium size news channels in India. Some of these channels include TV 100 News. Total TV, Tazza TV, Channel 2, SMBC Insight, Khabrein Abhi Tak, Fast news, Azad TV etc. 

Speaking at an open house discussion (OHD) organised by the TRAI to discuss the issue of placing TV channels on landing page, AINBA President SK Gupta said, “None of our members is interested in the BARC rating because nobody believes that advertisers give ads on the basis of BARC rating. Advertisers do their own assessment in their own area and then give ads.” 

“BARC is an unnecessary compulsion and (we make) unnecessary payment (to it). Everybody goes to BARC only because of DAVP. If we have to work with the government, we have to go to DAVP. DAVP then asks us to go to BARC. DAVP should not make it mandatory at all,” he further said.  

After listening to the demand, TRAI Secretary Sunil K Gupta asked the AINBA President, “Do you have the mandate to say so in this house because you are making a very important statement?” AINBA President responded saying, “Yes sir, we have even written this to the ministry (Ministry of Information & Broadcasting.”

BARC (Broadcast Audience Research Council) India is an industry body that was set up to design, commission, supervise and own an accurate, reliable and timely television audience measurement system for India. It is promoted by the Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF), The Indian Society of Advertisers (ISA) and The Advertising Agencies Association of India (AAAI).

Responding to the argument, the BARC representative who was also present during the discussion, said, “BARC is an opt-in service; only channels that want to get measured can opt.” 

However, BARC did not respond to the mail sent by exchange4media to seek more clarity on the subject. DAVP also did not comment on the subject. 

On August 31, 2017, the government, through an amendment in the Policy Guideline for the Empanelment of Private C&S TV Channels and fixation of rates for Government advertisements by DAVP, made it mandatory for channels to opt for BARC rating to qualify to get ads from DAVP.

“If a channel does not figure in BARC viewership data of Week 1-26 of 2016 or in the zone of consideration as per the latest Week 1-26 data of BARC adopted by DAVP for calculation of rates, the channel will not be considered for DAVP empanelment,” read the amendment.

The amendment was a big disappointment for many TV channels as the earlier guideline stated, “If a channel is not figuring in BARC viewership data of Week 1-26 of 2016 or zone of consideration for Week 1-26 of subsequent years for later empanelment, then it would be offered the base rate (gross) i.e. Rs 240/ for GEC and Rs 350/- for news channels.”

Between September and December last year, AINBA wrote two letters to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting over the issue.

It complained that “they (BARC) have adopted the same policy as TAM wherein they have bifurcated the monitoring in few sections for example: (Uttarakhand, UP) (Himachal, Chandigarh, Punjab and Haryana), which is a extremely faulty monitoring system.”

In the letter written to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting on December 12, 2017, AINBA had also said, “All channels will prefer to pay the monitoring charges to EMMC rather than BARC.”

EMMC (Electronic Media Monitoring Centre) is a subordinate office under the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting tasked to monitor content of television channels and report on violations of the programme and advertising code.

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