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BARC Resumes Viewership Data Publication Post TRAI Stand-Off

Television viewership monitoring agency BARC (Broadcast Audience Research Council) has resumed the publication of viewership data on its websites ending its stand-off with broadcast regulator Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI).

Though BARC declined to comment when reached out to, viewership data can now be accessed on the BARC website.

It was last week on 1 April that TRAI had issued a showcause notice to BARC for not complying with its direction on release of TV viewership data during the sector’s migration to the new tariff regime. The regulator had asked BARC to explain, by 5 April, why action should not be taken against it for contravention of sections of the TRAI Act. BARC had responded by saying that putting such misleading data on its website would be against public interest and could be misused by vested interests, and that BARC is constantly monitoring the ground situation and it has made detailed submissions to TRAI and MIB, backed by data, on the same on several occasions.

In late February too, the regulator had objected to data not getting published and directed BARC to immediately release viewership data for the past weeks on its website, warning of “appropriate action” for non-compliance.

Earlier in February, BARC had said that viewership data will not be measurable for a while following the new tariff order brought in by Trai which allows consumers to choose the TV channels they want to watch and pay only for them at maximum retail prices (MRPs) set by broadcasters. The new tariff order was expected to affect viewership and reach of channels as consumers change their entertainment packs. BARC had explained that patterns of user behaviour were currently identified on a validation process spanning 13 weeks and based on a fixed number of channels. Benchmarks based on pre-regulation behaviour would not be applicable since respondents would still be in the process of transition to different channel packs and adjusting to a new paradigm. Consumer behaviour could only be assessed once the transition period was over and new norms would have emerged 13 weeks after the behaviour had settled down.

Media industry sources say the TV monitoring agency now feels the situation has stabilized and enough time has passed for viewership data to be measured and published. While data was provided to BARC subscribers even during this transition period, it will now be available to the public too.―Livemint

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