Who gains or loses from BARC’s outlier policy?

Many broadcasters support the guidelines suggested by the Internet and Mobile Association of India

e4m by Tasmayee Laha Roy
Updated: Jun 13, 2019 8:39 AM

Week 22 ratings released by BARC have been in discussion and under the scanner because it was released by the TV audience measurement body as it is without filtering out the outliers.

While broadcasters have always indulged in investing in landing pages it is only after the May 31 judgment of the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT), which sets aside the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India's (TRAI) direction dated December 3, 2018, that BARC started counting landing page viewership in calculating ratings. Broadcasters who saw their ratings go down slammed the move while those who went up the scale called its initial method of rationalizing ratings on account of assumed landing page deals, unethical.

"We believe that any decision against the circular of 31st May should be taken by BARC in a fair, transparent and non-discriminatory manner in consultation with all stakeholders. It should not give any knee jerk reaction to snap out or revert to its incorrect practice of rationalizing ratings on account of assumed landing page deals that apparently was being followed previously. It is also not clear as to why BARC did not disclose its practice of rationalization of ratings to subscribers that was being followed by it until 31st May," said an industry insider.

The industry source further added, "BARC has no mechanism or data to understand which channels are on landing pages and which are not, therefore, any decision on rationalizing ratings is without any basis. It will only be fair and prudent for BARC to explain what is the formula for rationalization."

Any abnormal reach earlier was considered an outlier and rationalized and moderated by BARC assuming it came from landing pages. Many broadcasters thus support the guidelines suggested by the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI).

The IAMAI submission to TRAI’s Consultation Paper on Review of Television Audience Measurement and Ratings in India dated December 3, 2018, raised some interesting points relevant to the present debate on the calculation of ratings. It says based on feedback from the industry; it appears that BARC has not been entirely successful in achieving its purpose with transparency.

The submission recommended that all manual validation process should be stopped and should be automated with the help of AI using viewer behavior analytics and other outlier’s detection techniques.

It also suggested that there should be a periodic audit of modifications made to the original data via outlier detection, the omission of a few records and its justification, etc. by the third party, using the same rules that BARC applies to the data at the time of processing it.

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