NBF writes to BARC for ‘immediate and urgent’ release of news ratings; suggests black-out of channels not wanting ratings

IMAGE-NBF-writes-to-BARC-demanding-release-of-news-ratings-MEDIABRIEF.jpg

The News Broadcasters Federation (NBF), has written to the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC), urging it to resume the release of Audience Measurement Data for, and suggesting that BARC  could consider a black-out of those news channels that don’t want the ratings published. 

The NBF has reiterated that ‘BARC’s continued silence on the issue of TRP data, for the past one year, is threatening the very survival of over 400 news channels, putting in jeopardy the employment of hundreds of thousands of media professionals and their livelihoods.’

BARC’s continued silence on the issue of TRP data, for the past one year, is threatening the very survival of over 400 news channels, putting in jeopardy the employment of hundreds of thousands of media professionals and their livelihoods: NBF

Furthermore, ‘as the only industry body that represents the business interest and editorial freedom of news TV channels,’ NBF has strongly iterated ‘to be included and consulted on all issues surrounding the release of TRP data for the news genre’.

Demanding the urgent release for data, NBF has proclaimed that, there was no legitimate reason or rationale for a pause in ratings for one specific genre. The delayed release of these ranking has ‘vested corporate interests’ which is now overshadowing industry welfare.

If (a) few news channels have high level of mistrust and (are) skeptic about BARC’s people and process, BARC could decide
that those specific channels who do not want the ratings to be released be excluded and the ratings should be released for
rest of the channels of the news media industry in the best
interest at large: NBF

Additionally, NBF has cited that ‘the pause in ratings has called huge financial distress and severe economic loss to the news genre.’

‘In addition, news broadcasters are losing the trust of the viewers, and the advertisers are increasingly suspicious about the genuine performance of the channels. It is to be noted that News broadcasters generate one of the highest direct as well as indirect employment for both skilled and non-skilled workers.’

Concluding its letter and reiterating its stance on a free, fair, and transparent rating system, the NBF has urged BARC to include NBF as the key stakeholder in all discussions, deliberations, and decision- making processes and has also extended its cooperation.

MediaBrief.com is reproducing the letter addressed to Nakul Chopra, CEO, BARC India, in its entirety below:

We, News Broadcasters Federation (NBF), the largest, first and the only government recognised industry body, herein demands BARC to resume release of Audience Measurement Data for the news genre which has been unilaterally withheld for almost a year.

As the only industry body the representing the business interest and editorial freedom of news TV channels, NBF strongly iterate to be included and consulted on all issues surrounding release of TRP data for news genre.

We would like to bring to your urgent attention our concerns on the issue and seek immediate action:

In the first place, there was no legitimate reason or rationale for pause in ratings for one specific genre-

If the process of BARC is faulty and is being reworked, the entertainment and other genres which contributes 88% continue to get the ratings data.

However, news genre which constitutes only 12% has been victimized; though the metering boxes and data collection is common for all genres.

Argument of BARC on the margin of error being higher for the news genre because of lower sample size compared to that of GECs defies statistical logic, since the sample size for niche genres is far lesser compared to the news category but BARC has not paused the ratings for those niche English channels.

If the FIR by Mumbai police trigged this suspension, then why ratings of only news genre were suspended given that two out of the three channels named in the alleged case are from the non-news genre.

Unilateral decision of BARC lacks any legitimate reason or rationale for singling out the news genre to pause release of audience measurement ratings, from October 15, 2020. Almost one year has passed and still no clarity on the way forward.

Vested corporate interests overshadowing industry welfare

NBF is cognizant of the fact that a few entities, who chair the board of a so called “Industry body”, are gratifying their self-interest by seeking further pause in ratings, thus putting the larger industry welfare at stake. These handful national channels have dropped in pecking order just before the ratings were stalled. However, since ratings were stalled, they have been able to hold onto their competitive advantage in advertising rate.

As a matter of fact, out of the 400 news channels in the country, a vast majority are not members of such an industry organisation. Even their member news channels do not subscribe to the idea of pause in ratings.

It therefore seems that the entire purpose of this vested interest group is to block ratings using all the means necessary to protect their own revenue potential against channels which had gained in viewership in recent times. This is should be considered by BARC.

A few handful of news broadcasters, who insists continuation in pause in ratings, do not represent the larger interest of the entire news broadcasting sector.

BARC, as an industry body, should not give into such vested interest. If few news channels have high level of mistrust and skeptic about BARC’s people and process, BARC could decide that those specific channels who do not want the ratings to be released be excluded and the ratings should be released for rest of the channels of the news media industry in the best interest at large.

Loss of credibility and revenue

The pause in ratings has called huge financial distress and severe economic loss to the news genre.

In addition, news broadcasters are losing the trust of the viewers, and the advertisers are increasingly suspicious about the genuine performance of the channels. It is to be noted that News broadcasters generates one of the highest direct as well as indirect employment for both skilled and non-skilled workers.

BARC’s continued silence on issue of TRP data, for the past one year, is threatening the very survival of over 400 news channels, putting in jeopardy the employment of hundreds of thousands of media professionals and their livelihoods.

NBF, as the key stakeholder, to be included in all decisions of BARC

NBF is the single largest industry body representing the business interest and upholding the media freedom in India. NBF is the first and only officially recognized industry body by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India.

In view of the above-mentioned facts, we reiterate and strongly urge BARC to include NBF as the key stakeholder in all all discussions, deliberations and decision- making process.

We therefore demand immediate resumption of ratings of news genre in these challenging times. We are willing to extend any cooperation needed in the pursuit of ensuring a free, fair and transparent ratings system.