Is BARC preparing grounds to bring back news ratings?

Sources suggest the possibility of a BARC board meeting in the next two weeks where the return of news ratings could be discussed

e4m by Tasmayee Laha Roy
Updated: Jul 7, 2021 11:15 AM

It has been close to nine months since BARC announced a blackout period for the news genre ratings and while broadcasters have no fresh update from the measurement body, industry insiders suggest that BARC is prepping to get news ratings back soon. Sources also suggest the possibility of a BARC board meeting in the next two weeks where the return of news ratings could be discussed.

While two Board meetings took place took in March and April the upcoming one is likely to dicuss the ratings issue.

"We are hopeful that if the meeting happens soon, we will have an update on the status of news ratings,” said an industry insider.

The industry, however, is divided over the return of news ratings.

While News Broadcasters Federation (NBF) wrote to BARC in January to initiate steps to resume release of ratings of news channels with immediate effect, News Broadcasters Association (NBA) on the other hand has requested BARC to extend data blackout for the news genre. Soon after NBF wrote to BARC, NBA sent the measurement body a letter with some pointers to act upon to ensure a transparent and fair rating system.

In the letter, among other things, the NBA Board demanded that BARC should make a clear statement about the veracity of its ratings in the period during the audit and also conduct an audit of the Hindi news genre; expunge the data of the erring broadcaster and restate the real position of rankings of all news channels from the beginning; and explain what penal actions are provided for in the BARC constitution against broadcasters who have indulged in manipulation of ratings etc.

As per sources, talks between NBA and BARC about addressing the issues raised by NBA in the letter reached a dead end with NBA not being satisfied with BARC's approach on the same.

Turns out, BARC is now planning to take up the issue at the Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF) level after tabling it at the Board level. 

However it is not just the broadcasters’ bodies that have been in touch with BARC to discuss ratings. Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) had also written to BARC to maintain “status quo” on the same until the ministry concluded examination of the report on the matter submitted by a committee.

While the committee chaired by Prasar Bharati CEO Shashi Shekhar Vempati, along with three other experts, submitted their report way back in January itself there has been no concrete decisions made on the basis of the same.

e4m reached out to BARC to confirm the possibility of a board meeting and also the return of news ratings, but BARC did not respond to the queries. The story will be updated if BARC responds.

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