The Broadcasting Audience Research Council of India has suspended the publication of its weekly TV ratings for 8-12 weeks “to review and augment the current standards”. This comes in the wake of the alleged unearthed by the Mumbai police involving Republic TV and two Marathi channels, whose owners have been arrested. The suspension applies to all Hindi, English, regional, and business news channels. BARC will, however, release weekly audience estimates for the news genre by state and language.
In a statement released on Thursday, BARC said, “BARC Board has proposed that it’s Technical Committee review and augment the current standards of measuring and reporting the data of niche genres, to improve their statistical robustness and to significantly hamper the potential attempts of infiltrating the panel homes.”
The Supreme Court has a petition filed by Republic TV challenging the Mumbai police’s investigation into the alleged fudging of TRPs. The apex court asked Arnab Goswami, Republic TV’s editor, to approach the Bombay High Court instead.
Punit Goenka, chairman of BARC India, said, “Given the most recent developments, the BARC Board was of the opinion that a pause was necessitated to enable the industry and BARC to work closely to review its already stringent protocols and further augment them to enable the industry to focus on collaborating for growth and well-natured competitiveness.”
The News Broadcasters Association has welcomed the decision. The association’s president, Rajat Sharma, was quoted as saying by PTI, "Recent revelations have brought disrepute to the measurement agency and by extension the broadcast news media. The corrupted, compromised, irrationally fluctuating data is creating a false narrative on What India Watches and has been putting pressure on our members to take editorial calls that run counter to the journalistic values and ideals of journalism".
He added, “The current atmosphere of toxicity, abuse and fake news is no longer tenable and NBA as the custodian and guardian of Indian broadcast media believes a bold step of putting ratings of news genre on hold will help in improving the content.”
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