Zee Media to pull out channels from BARC over landing page issue

The network has suggested that BARC use an algorithm which doesn't measure the landing page date

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Published: Sep 30, 2022 8:59 PM  | 3 min read

News broadcaster Zee Media Corporation Limited (ZMCL) has decided to pull out of Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) India's TV audience measurement system. The company has cited the landing page issue as the reason for taking such a drastic step.
ZMCL becomes the second TV news network after NDTV to pull out their channels from BARC India. Earlier, NDTV pulled out of BARC due to alleged infirmities in the rating system. It demanded that the council must expand its sample size to ensure that the measurement process cannot be rigged or manipulated.

Similarly, ZMCL said it has been consistently requesting BARC India to take corrective measures on the landing page issue but to no avail. The news broadcaster has demanded that the landing page data should not be included in the final viewership and the duration for counting viewership be increased to 2 minutes.

A top company official confirmed the development to e4m saying it has written a letter to BARC communicating its decision to pull out of the audience measurement system. The decision to quit BARC India was taken following a News Broadcasters and Digital Association (NBDA) meeting on Friday.

"How can our channel ratings drop continuously when we are the most well-distributed news network in the country and our digital products are number 1, as per ComScore? This is logic-defying. We are suffering since we don't use landing pages," ZMCL Chief Business Officer Joy Chakraborthy stated.

ZMCL owns and operates 14 TV news channels comprising 1 Global, 4 National, and 9 regional language channels. It also owns 5 digital channels and 17 digital brands.

"We have been in constant touch with BARC over the landing page issue. We have been pointing out to them that our reach is not reflected in our viewership numbers. Our numbers are low even if we agree, for argument's sake, that our viewership got impacted due to the exit of one of our top anchors. Our time spent has also not fallen that much," he added.

While clarifying that ZMCL is not anti-BARC, Chakraborthy noted that the council needs to get its act together on the landing page issue. "What we are suggesting is that BARC should have an algorithm that doesn't measure landing page data."

On being asked about the BARC's claim that it has algorithms that can detect any unusual viewership activity, Chakraborthy retorted, "Then how come newcomers in the market are seeing such a spike in their viewership? In our ground visits, we have discovered that a lot of channels that are not so popular among the viewers are still doing well in those markets. It's all thanks to landing pages."

The ZMCL CBO demanded that BARC India should stop counting landing page viewership and increase the time spent for measuring viewership to 2 minutes. "We are simply requesting BARC to make it a level playing field by leaving out landing page data from the final viewership because that is forced viewership. Secondly, the time spent duration for counting viewership should be increased to 2 minutes because that will capture genuine viewership," he averred.

Queried about the likely impact of not getting measured by BARC India on the network's ad revenue, Chakraborthy asserted that the clients and agencies know the kind of value that ZMCL channels deliver. "Clients are aware of our strength and this is the reason why we have the highest number of clients despite the dip in our viewership. Our inventory is full and we are also getting the rates that we are seeking."

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