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Releasing Viewership Data Now Could Be Misleading: BARC

Television monitoring agency BARC (Broadcast Audience Research Council) has responded to broadcast regulator Trai (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India) which accused it of not complying with its direction on releasing TV viewership data during the industry’s migration to the new tariff order (NTO) regime.

“BARC India is a joint industry body, and operates under self-regulation model, in compliance with Ministry of I&B guidelines. In the NTO transition period, due to distribution disruptions (which have been well documented in media reports), there is significant volatility in data,” a BARC Indiaspokesperson said. “Due to this, and the fact that data in this period does not truly reflect viewers’ choice, BARC India Technical Committee and Board took a decision to temporarily suspend placing the limited set of data our website.”

Putting such misleading data on its website would be against public interest and could be misused by vested interests, the person said adding 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.

“Also, we would like to reiterate that there has been no stoppage of data to our subscribers. Every week, our clients have been receiving weekly data without any disruption,” the person said.

According to the new tariff regime brought out by Trai, consumers can 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 is expected to affect viewership and reach of channels as consumers change their entertainment packs.

Earlier this year, 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 will not be applicable since respondents will still be in the process of transition to different channel packs and adjusting to a new paradigm. Consumer behaviour can only be assessed once the transition period is over and new norms have emerged 13 weeks after the behaviour has settled down.―Livemint

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