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Republic TV row: Barc defends its TV ratings measurement system

LiveMint logoLiveMint 19-05-2017 Vidhi Choudhary

New Delhi: Defending its measurement system, following several English news channels pulling out of the TV ratings and viewership monitoring agency, Broadcast Audience Research Council (Barc) India on Friday said that “Barc India was set up with the mandate to measure What India Watches, and our (TV ratings) measurement system delivers exactly that.We have a transparent policy on the matter of measuring channels. This policy has been consistently applied to all channels who subscribe to our measurement.”

Barc was responding to the English news channels withdrawing from Barc after the agency released its weekly data on Thursday that ranked Arnab Goswami’s Republic TV as the most watched channel in the country. This prompted seven news channels including Times Now to opt out of the council’s measurement system as the News Broadcasters Association (NBA) had earlier written to Barc to withhold the ratings till the dual frequency issue was sorted out.

Dual frequency, simply put, is the practice of having multiple channel numbers for one channel.

Republic TV had irked rival channels for listing itself on multiple channel numbers across different genres on various cable networks, which is they feel would shore up its viewership. In fact, NBA had, earlier this week, asked the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) to take action against Republic for alleged unethical distribution practices.

However, Barc reiterated that dual frequency or having multiple channel listings is a common practise used by broadcasters. “The fact is that this is a common distribution strategy among various TV channels, particularly News Broadcasters, to place their channels on multiple LCNs (logical channel number) and across genres in the past, and they continue to do so even now. Based on information collected from various monitoring agencies we have seen that multiple English news channels on different occasions have placed themselves on multiple LCNs viz across 64 distribution networks during rebranding/revamp, across 16 networks during budget coverage, across 12 networks during UP elections, etc. It has become a usual practice,” the agency explained in a statement.

To be sure, this practice leads to an increase in viewership for the said broadcaster.

In its statement Barc said, “We are clear about our position—we measure viewership of channels basis their unique Watermark ID, irrespective of the platform the channel is available on or the number of instances within the platform. For channels having same watermark on more than one LCN, viewership gets aggregated and reported as a single channel and not multiple channels. Barc India neither monitors channel placements across the various DTH platforms/cable head-ends in the country, nor does it have the mandate to do so.”

In the past, too, Barc has measured channels using multiple channel numbers as per its policy, the agency said, and the same principle was applied to data released on Thursday as well, it explained. “Barc India is not the regulatory body for resolving issues concerning multiplicity of LCNs for a channel.Ideally these issues should be sorted among broadcasters themselves rather than dragging BARC India into these. Barc India will continue to measure what India watches,” it said.

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