After TRP scam, BARC suspends weekly ratings of news channels

At least five people have been arrested by the city police which busted the scam earlier this month

TV
The exercise would cover all Hindi, Regional, English News and Business News channels with immediate effect, it added | Representative Photo: iStock

The Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC), a television audience measurement body, has announced a temporary suspension of its weekly ratings of news channels after a major scam pertaining to fake Television Rating Points (TRP) surfaced.

The agency said in a statement that it now intends to review and augment the current standards of measurement to improve on “statistical robustness”, and the exercise will result in a “pause” in the weekly ratings for up to 12 weeks.

At least five people have been arrested by the city police which busted the scam earlier this month.

Those arrested include news channel employees, while the executives of Arnab Goswami-led Republic Media Group are also being questioned with regard to the case. Republic Media Group has denied any wrongdoing.

Related news: SC dismisses Republic TV petition seeking CBI probe into TRP scam

The audience estimates given by BARC influence ad spends, and the total size of the ad placements was pegged at ₹32,000 crore annually by the police. The police allege the ratings were being rigged by inducing the homes where the monitors were placed.

“In the light of the recent developments, BARC Board has proposed that it’s technical committee 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,” an official statement said.

The exercise would cover all Hindi, Regional, English News and Business News channels with immediate effect, it added.

“BARC will cease publishing the weekly individual ratings for all news channels during the exercise,” it said, adding that the exercise will last between 8 to 12 weeks and it’ll include validation and testing.

“… a pause was necessitated to enable the industry and BARC to work closely to review its already stringent protocols and further augment them to enable the industry to focus on collaborating for growth and well-natured competitiveness,” BARC India chairman Punit Goenka said.

The industry body’s chief executive Sumil Lulla said besides augmenting current protocols and benchmarking them with global standards, BARC is also exploring several options to discourage unlawful inducement of its panel home viewers and further strengthening its codes.

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