NBF takes up TV9's alleged meter tampering issue with BARC again

TV9 responds to allegations; plans legal action

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Updated: Jul 13, 2020 7:11 PM
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In a fresh round of communication, News Broadcasters Federation (NBF) has reached out to BARC, expressing concerns about not just the ratings but also questioning the integrity and impartiality of the ratings body.
“There is scathing evidence to indicate manipulation and tampering of BARC meters by the TV9 Group. We have on multiple occasions, right from 10th June, 2020, informed BARC about deceitful and malicious practices by the TV9 Group to tamper with BARC meters. While you have acknowledged that these are serious charges, there has been no action taken,” said the letter.
Some videos that have surfaced in the recent past pointing out to an alleged anomaly in your ratings have been in discussion for quite some time now. The letter also says that the tapes indicate "a well-oiled system was put in place to artificially increase Average Time Spent data."

Following are some of the observations of NBF mentioned in the letter sent out to BARC on July 11.

  • TAPES ESTABLISH WANTON CONSPIRACY TO MANIPULATE BARC DATA: It is incomprehensible how on public platforms BARC has gone on to make an assertion that the videos showing manipulation of BARC data are “fake”. In the interest of transparency and fairplay, it is paramount that the details of the third party auditor who determined the visual evidence is fake be made public. This is especially crucial considering these videos, prima facie, establish a wanton conspiracy to manipulate BARC data right under the nose of the organisation.
  • 6 VIDEOS PROVE WELL-OILED SYSTEM TO ARTIFICIALLY MANIPULATE TSVs: The six shocking videos show how homes with BAR-O-meters were identified in a categorical manner, and payments were allegedly made by TV9 to ensure the channel is turned-on for a fixed minimum period on a daily basis. The tapes indicate a well-oiled system was put in place to artificially increase Average Time Spent data.
  • POSSIBLE BREAKDOWN OF BARC SYSTEM: If any of the abovementioned videos are true, then they point to a breakdown of BARC systems, and a complete compromise of the BARC sample. If the videos are true, they prove beyond doubt that BARC’s claims of being a ‘transparent, accurate, and inclusive TV audience measurement system’ are incorrect. Any attempt to dismiss this as a solitary instance would be shocking and scurrilous, considering there is not one, not two but at least 6 videos from different homes all fitted with BARC meters that appear to have been compromised.
  • BARC PRECEDENT OF SUSPENDING RATINGS HAS NOT BEEN APPLIED: BARC’s inaction on the allegations against the TV9 Group and TV9 Bharatvarsh raise questions on whether the organisation is acting prejudicially. In the past, allegations of tampering with BARC meters has led to suspension of ratings of channels. BARC had in 2016, suspended the ratings of TV9’s Telugu news channel, V6 News and India News on similar charges, the non-application of this precedent in the current case raises massive questions of bias.
  • INTEGRITY & IMPARTIALITY OF BARC IN QUESTION: Exercise and mechanism on which BARC is operating and determining ratings. The lack of confidentiality of metered homes indicates there are gaping holes in what should be an impartial process of ratings determined by BARC reliable data, however, should TV9 go uninvestigated the integrity of the entire system stands tainted. It is now incumbent upon BARC to make it expressly clear, whether or not they acknowledge any and all of the videos annexed herewith.
  • COMPLICITY OF THE CHANNEL’S HIGHER MANAGEMENT TO BE INVESTIGATED: Significant to note that should following incontrovertible conclusions: One, that cash payments are being made to viewers by the TV9 Group and Two, that TV9 has access to the homes that have been metered by BARC. This would not be possible without complicity at a higher managerial level of the network involved. BARC is already aware that TV9 is centrally controlled with a common board of directors for the entire network, and a joint management. TV9 Telugu, TV9 Marathi, TV9 Guj TV9 Kannada, TV9 Bharatvarsh and NEWS9 are all part of one operation. Therefore, evidence of manipulation by one of the network channels comes with an implicit allegation of corrupt practice by the remaining TV9 network entities.
  • INTEGRITY & IMPARTIALITY OF BARC IN QUESTION: The videos raise questions on the entire exercise and mechanism on which BARC is operating and determining ratings. The lack of metered homes indicates there are gaping holes in what should be an impartial process of ratings determination by BARC. The fulcrum of operation of BARC is to provide reliable data, however, should TV9 go uninvestigated the integrity of the entire system tands tainted. It is now incumbent upon BARC to make it expressly clear, whether or not they acknowledge any and all of the videos annexed herewith.
  • COMPLICITY OF THE CHANNEL’S HIGHER MANAGEMENT TO BE INVESTIGATED: Significant to note that should the any of the videos be proven to be authentic it leads to the following incontrovertible conclusions: One, that cash payments are being made to viewers by the TV9 Group and Two, that TV9 has access to the homes that have been metered by BARC. This ot be possible without complicity at a higher managerial level of the network involved. BARC is already aware that TV9 is centrally controlled with a common board of directors for the entire network, and a joint management. TV9 Telugu, TV9 Marathi, TV9 Guj TV9 Kannada, TV9 Bharatvarsh and NEWS9 are all part of one operation. Therefore, evidence of manipulation by one of the network channels comes with an implicit allegation of corrupt practice by the remaining TV9 network entities.
  • The overall trend across news channels from Week 7 to Week 26 has been that of an 11% increase in Time Spent (TSV). The one exception to the pattern is TV9, which has seen a massive 93% increase in TSV over the last 20 weeks.
  • In fact, while most channels showed a maximum increase in TSVs of upto 13%, TV9 Bharatvarsh was the only channel in the genre to mark up a 93% increase in the period. While there is no doubt that a single channel can see an increase in time spent due to the nature of the news story they are covering, it is completely unprecedented that one channel sees such a large spike in Average Time Spent (TSVs) completely at odds with the rest of the industry. TV9 PERFORMANCE DEFIES BARC’S BIO NEWS ANALYSIS
  • BARC’s own content analysis tool BIO News indicates that TV9 Bharatvarsh has measly onlocation coverage compared to its contemporaries in the genre. This casts further doubts on the credibility of the ratings TV9 has been receiving on account on an increase in Average Time Spent. BARC must provide an explanation as to how a channel with some of the lowest on location coverage has been seeing a disproportionate increase in time spent defying genre trends.
  • Ignoring the plausible gross malpractice by the organization and shielding it at the current juncture would raise serious questions on the credibility, robustness and dependability of BARC.

e4M reached out to TV9 Group seeking their response to the letter.  TV9 CEO, Barun Das said, “BARC has already denied the authenticity of these videos. In this context, if the complaint has actually been made by NBF,  it seems NBF is endorsing the veracity of these anonymous fake videos, overlooking the basic principles of journalism. Should one react to such unsigned and faceless allegation at all ?  In any case we are taking appropriate legal steps against such malicious propaganda to malign our company’s image.”

 

 

 

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