Rival Channels Leave BARC, Arnab’s Republic TV Hits Back
In an official statement, Arnab Goswami’s Republic TV said that it has learnt through “independent investigations and data provided…by highly respected and independent monitoring agencies” that India Today and Times Network have been using dual LCNs to enhance viewership.
Condemning such a practice, they said it weakens “the ethical base of the industry”.
This statement came after four english news channels — CNN-News 18, Times Now, India Today TV, NDTV 24*7 and NewsX “switched” off Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) for four weeks after it showed that Arnab Goswami's Republic TV occupied the top position in the English news genre, the other channels falling in this category and associated with the News Broadcasters Association (NBA) have withdrawn from the council.
According to BARC’s viewership data, for the week commencing 6 May till 12 May, Republic TV got 2.11 million impressions, followed by Times Now at 1.4 million, NDTV 24*7 and India Today at 0.35 million, and CNN News-18 at 0.31 million. Notably, Goswami's channel went live from 6 May.
Their withdrawal comes with the "advice" of the NBA, which wrote a letter to BARC CEO Partho Dasgupta regarding the matter. The letter, as quoted by The Economic Times, said:
What's ‘The Serious Situation’ ?
Republic TV has run into the bad books of the NBA, which in a letter to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) last week, had complained that the channel flouted the latter's intercommunication regulations with regard to distribution.
The violation, according to the NBA letter, stems from Republic TV being "registered by several multi-system operators/distribution platform operators/distributors under different genres in their EPG (Electronic Programme Guide) by listing it on multiple logical numbers (LCN)".
This practice, according to media experts and executives, can boost viewership ratings slightly, according to a Mint report.
Considering this violation, NBA had even urged BARC to refrain from releasing its weekly viewership data till Republic TV showed compliance.
However, as BARC went on to release the data on Thursday, Annie Jospeh, secretary general, NBA, wrote a letter criticising its decision, as quoted by The Economic Times.
India Today TV even put out a disclaimer announcing its exit form the BARC measurement system "for now", citing distortion of data for the genre as the reason for the same.
Even on 15 May, in a report on its website, India Today accused Republic TV of "resorting to unethical distribution tactics to garner high viewership numbers. And this is in clear violation of TRAI notifications."
The report went on to say how India Today TV has made it clear that it runs on a single frequency, and how it is inviting viewers to notify them if they come across an "aberration" in the form of any multiple listing or double frequency.
NDTV too came out with a statement on its website regarding the issue on Friday.
NDTV has consistently maintained that there is something terribly wrong with the way television ratings are measured, yet for lack of an alternative have been part of the current system. Unfortunately these flaws and malpractices have seen a spike recently. Consequently, today, we along with other major English news channels have decided to exit the current BARC ratings system till this issue is addressed. We hope this will be resolved soon.NDTV statement