Television ratings agency BARC (Broadcast Audience Research Council) has decided to pause weekly ratings for news channels for three months as it reviews its system amid the row over alleged rigging of viewership ratings by three channels.
The suspension of ratings applies to all English, Hindi, regional and business news channels.
In a statement today, the ratings agency said the move is in order to “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”.
“…starting with the ‘News Genre’, BARC will cease publishing the weekly individual ratings for all news channels during the exercise. This exercise is expected to take around 8-12 weeks including validation and testing under the supervision of BARCs Tech Comm. BARC will continue to release weekly audience estimates for the genre of news by state and language,” BARC said.
Republic TV is among the three channels being investigated for allegedly gaming ratings and using them to spread fake narratives and gain ad revenues. The two others are local channels in Maharashtra called Fakt Marathi and Box Cinema.
Two TV channel owners have been arrested and the directors and promoters of Republic TV are being investigated for ratings fraud.
Republic TV is the biggest name to have emerged in the early investigation into the fake ratings scam with viewers testifying that they had been paid to keep the channel on even when they were not watching.
Welcoming the decision of BARC, News Broadcasters Association said the period of suspension of ratings “will be utilised to implement important reforms at BARC”.
“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,” said Rajat Sharma, president of News Broadcasters Association.