It is jubilation time for news broadcasters as MIB resumes TV ratings of news channels

News broadcasters can heave a sigh of relief now. The Ministry of Information & Broadcasting (MIB) has asked the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) to release the news ratings with immediate effect. It has been more than a year since news channels have been out of BARC’s viewership data ratings, leaving the TV news segment in the lurch. Particularly affected were the smaller news channels in the FTA space.

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MIB’s decision comes after the BARC has undertaken revision in its processes, protocols, oversight mechanism, and initiated changes in governance structure, etc. based on the TRP committee report and TRAI’s recommendations made in April 2020.

It was in October 2020 that BARC withheld TV ratings for news channels after the Mumbai police unearthed the alleged TRP scam involving one news and two other GECs. Later BARC approached the government and the MIB constituted a committee. And the ministry asked the BARC to continue the status quo. What was disheartening is the fact that the ratings were stopped when news channels witnessed historic viewership, as per the EY FICCI report. The BARC’s 2021 report also showed that of the overall TV viewership, the news genre grew at the highest at 27%.

While resenting the inordinate delay in resuming the ratings, the news broadcasters have welcomed the decision.

“The MIB's decision is a right move in the right direction, giving both a moral and economic boost to the FTA news channels which have adhered to public interest journalism, despite the pause in BARC ratings for the past 16 months,” said News Broadcasters Federation Secretary-General Jai Krishna.

“Republic Network is extremely pleased that the ratings are commencing again. The NBF team and its members have been representing all the stakeholders for the same for a while. It is important to provide transparency to advertisers and agency partners and the absence of data has been a huge concern. The ratings will help the genre to bring incremental business from brands that have been under indexing advertising investments,” said Republic TV CEO Vikas Khanchandani.

Welcoming the MIB decision, ITV Network Founder Kartikeya Sharma said that the news broadcasters are not happy with this delay. “It has been more than a year since news channels have been out of BARC’s viewership data ratings. News is served on a real-time basis and that makes TRP the most important currency on the basis of which advertising every year is decided. The absence of ratings has forced smaller players to find newer baits for advertisers for better negotiations. Although advertisers are investing in news television, with renegotiated rates and demands bonus it is impacting inventory. With elections around the corner, many new channels will also lose out on election season commercial ads because they have no data to back them up for a better pitch to advertisers,” Sharma said.

“It is a piece of very happy news for news broadcasters as BARC ratings are essential for news revenue generation, especially the small and medium-scale news broadcasters whose basic survival was in question at this pandemic time. It is truly a relief for regional broadcasters like us. NBF fought from day one for this matter, and finally, the ministry studied the facts and cleared it,” said 24 News and Flowers TV Group COO Anil Ayroor.

So much delay in releasing ratings suggests that a lot of mess was lying underneath to clean, observed TV5 Kannada’s CEO, Anil Singh. According to him, BARC reform is inevitable and must for our nation to grow as TV ratings impact advertisers’ success that directly affects employment and the economy. “For a few conflict-of-interest players, we cannot allow all stakeholders to suffer. I look forward to a committee headed by Harit Nagpal, MD, Tata Sky, to make a rating based on RPD, Return Path Data-capable  Set Top Box. That will be the best way forward combined with an efficient, independent and accountable Board of directors and BARC,” said Singh.

Welcoming the MIB action, Abhay Ojha, President - Sales & Marketing at News Nation Network, said, “News Nation Network has always advocated resumption of viewership for the news genre which had been unduly withheld for the last one and half years. Jan-Mar'22 is a critical period both from an editorial as well as a financial perspective due to the upcoming assembly elections. Annual deal planning and ratings will help us gauge true ROI, be it editorial or sales.”

“I welcome the government’s decision to finally resume ratings for the news genre. I have for long been advocating the need to restore ratings while questioning the suspension decision in the first place. NBF’s efforts in this direction have been exemplary. The decision to have ratings now onwards on a four-week rolling average concept is the need of the hour,” says TV9 Network CEO Barun Das.

“The NBA’s stand is vindicated as the ministry stamps the room for improvement, acknowledges the deficiencies and puts a timeline to rating release and systemic corrections,” affirms the CEO of a leading news channel and a member of the News Broadcasters Association.


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