NBF writes to BARC, deploring refusal to release ratings

The News Broadcasters Federation has written a letter to the chairperson and the members of the Board of Directors at BARC India, raising strong disapproval over the latter’s refusal to release the ratings despite clear instructions from the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting in this regard.
“It has been 16 months since the ratings of the news genre have been put on hold unilaterally by BARC. So far, no resumption of ratings has commenced,” said the letter, which is “being written on behalf of all the channels which are part of NBF and have been paying BARC subscriptions even during the blackout period.”

“MIB has called for ‘immediate resumption’, but BARC is mysteriously reluctant. The Ministry of Information & Broadcasting on 12 January 2021 stated that it “has asked BARC to release the News ratings with immediate effect and also to release the last three months data.” However, despite over a fortnight having passed, BARC has mysteriously been reluctant to release the data,” said the NBA in the letter.
Referring to the ‘baffling delay’ despite BARC’s stated position being that ratings would be released upon govt permission, NBA noted that BARC in a sworn affidavit on 17 August 2021 before the Bombay High Court stated: “the Defendant will restore access to the Weekly Channel Data as and when, and if, this is permitted by the Government or the regulator”.

The affidavit further stated, “If on the other hand, the Government permits the release of all Weekly Channel Data, including for past periods, the Defendant will supply that to the Plaintiffs.” Now that the Government of India has categorically called for the release of ratings, it is baffling and unfathomable why BARC is refusing to act.

BARC’s delay is incomprehensible given it takes three days to release ratings, said NBA. “Further, we have been given to understand as part of the various discussions with BARC at various levels, that it takes three days for the release of ratings. Therefore, it is incomprehensible and indecipherable as to what was holding BARC back from releasing ratings for the news genre by 20th January 20202,” NBA said.

“We have been given to understand that BARC has given a representation before the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting about needing affirmation from news channels before reviving ratings. This position is surprising considering no affirmation was sought to Federation of News Media Services abruptly suspend ratings. We put on record that all NBF channels want ratings to be provided and BARC must release ratings for the willing channels with immediate effect starting the coming Thursday (3 February 2022),” said the NBA.

We would also like to bring to light how numerous advertisers have publicly and individually iterated the need for the return of ratings. In absence of ratings, the entire industry is suffering and faces a stepper challenge with every delay by BARC. As stated above, since BARC is capable of releasing News Genre data on any Thursday as long as they start preparing on the preceding Monday, we expect that BARC will release News Genre data on 3 February 2022, as this letter is being written well in advance.

The NBF, in the letter, has requested BARC to confirm “us by return mail before 1 February 2022 (Tuesday)-end of working hours, that it is going to release the News Genre Data on 3 February 2022 (Thursday).”


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