This Article is From Oct 15, 2020

Agency To Pause News Channel Ratings To Review System Amid Ratings Row: 10 Points

Welcoming the decision of BARC, News Broadcasters Association said the period of suspension of ratings "will be utilised to implement important reforms at BARC".

The suspension of ratings applies toall English,Hindi, regional and business news channels.

New Delhi: Television ratings agency BARC (Broadcast Audience Research Council) has decided to pause weekly ratings for news channels for three months to "review and augment the current standards" of data after a huge controversy over the alleged rigging of viewership ratings by three channels. One of the channels, Republic TV, had gone to the Supreme Court seeking a CBI probe into the allegations raised by the Mumbai police. The Supreme Court today refused to admit the petition, saying that the channel should approach the Bombay High Court "like any other citizen facing investigation". At least five people have been arrested by Mumbai Police in the scam. The News Broadcasters Association, which represents private news channels in the country, has welcomed BARC's move.

Here are the top 10 updates on this big story:

  1. In a statement today, ratings agency BARC 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". The suspension of ratings applies to all English, Hindi, regional and business news channels.

  2. BARC said the process of reviewing is expected to take around eight to twelve "including validation and testing under the supervision of BARCs Tech Comm (sic)". The agency will continue to release weekly audience estimates for the genre of news by state and language.

  3. Welcoming the decision, News Broadcasters Association said the period of suspension of ratings "will be utilised to implement important reforms at BARC".

  4. "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.

  5. "This is a good step. They should have announced it earlier... This will give an opportunity to see, to re-check whether the internal checks and balances are working. There are public apprehensions that some of the checks and  balances are not working," Jawhar Sircar, former CEO of state broadcaster Prasat Bharati, told NDTV.

  6. 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.

  7. 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. 

  8. Today, the Supreme Court refused to admit Republic TV's petition seeking a CBI probe into allegations of rigged ratings. "You have already filed petition in high court. Entertaining this petition without high court sends message that we don't have faith in high courts. Like any other citizens faces predicament of probe under Cr.P.C (Criminal Procedure Code) must go to high court," the top court said. Mumbai Police had opposed the channel's petition in the top court, saying it was attempting to thwart the police investigations in the case.

  9. The ratings scam emerged during a larger analysis of the manipulation of news trends and how a "false narrative" was being spread, especially in connection with the probe into actor Sushant Singh Rajput's death, Mumbai Police had said last week.

  10. The investigation into the alleged fake ratings case is based on a complaint by Hansa, a private company involved in assessing viewership.