Followed I&B Guidelines To Black Out Viewership Data, Clarifies BARC

The Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) of India says it is following the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting’s (I&B’s) guidelines while making viewership data publicly unavailable during the industry’s transition to the new tariff order mandated by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI).

In a statement, the rating agency said, “Our position is also aligned to I&B guidelines that govern us. The guidelines clearly say that ‘…data generated by the rating agency be made available, on paid basis, to all interested stakeholders…’. And ‘sharing of the data/reports with a third party or in public domain be allowed subject to the fair usage policy of the rating agency. Such fair usage policy shall be provided on the website of the rating agency.’”

The statement was BARC’s response to TRAI advising it to make the data available publicly with immediate effect, even during the transition to the new tariff order. BARC publishes top line viewership data across genres on its website every Thursday. It has, however, not published any data on the website since the migration to the new regime started. The data page on the website displays the message, “In light of the implementation of TRAI new tariff order and on-ground changes, BARC India’s viewership data will be released only to its subscribers until further notice.”

It also updated it fair usage policy guidelines on the website on February 14, when the data for Week 6 (February 2-8) was to be published.

“To set the record straight, BARC India has not stopped publishing its viewership data. Every week, at 11 am sharp, all our subscribers have been getting all-India weekly data without a hitch for the last 175 weeks, including the last two weeks that correspond to the new tariff order (NTO) transition,” the rating agency said.

BARC India added it has published last two weeks’ data with the caveat that there are changes taking place on ground due to NTO roll-out because of which viewership numbers will be volatile during the transition period.

The Indian Society of Advertisers, too, has advised its members that the data should not be used for media planning and buying in the transition period. However, the weekly data page on BARC India’s website continued to display the aforementioned message at the time of going to print.

“We also publish a limited amount of data on our website – intended only for larger benefit and information of trade and media. We temporarily held back release of this select headline data on our website. We did this purely to avoid misrepresentation of such data (top 5 channels/programmes, etc) without looking at the larger context of NTO roll-out and resulting volatility which could be misleading, lead to confusion and be counter-productive,” BARC reiterated.

Lastly, the statement added that TRAI has advised that BARC should consider resuming the display of top channels and programmes data on its website which it shall consider after discussion with its stakeholders. BARC ownership includes 60 per cent stake with broadcasters, and 20 per cent each with advertisers and media agencies.―Business Standard

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