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Viewpoint: The road ahead for BARC

There is a change of guard at BARC India and there is much that the industry is expecting from the new CEO Sunil Lulla

There are several speculations regarding the reason/s behind Partho Dasgupta’s out-of-the-blue announcement of his resignation as the founding CEO of BARC India on a quiet Tuesday afternoon. Many in the industry point out to the tremendous pressure on Dasgupta – specifically the landing page issue, questions being raised over the Outlier Policy, the much publicised Ekam failing to take off. 

From the comments that the industry has shared with Adgully regarding their expectations from Lulla, words like ‘credibility’, ‘transparency’, ‘level playing field’, listening to the issues faced by regional players, etc., came to the fore. This was besides the strong demand for a definitive resolution to the landing page menace. Were these issues not addressed under Dasgupta? 

There are also several in the industry who support Dasgupta and say that he didn’t have a free hand in dealing with these issues. There were pressures on him not just from the stakeholder bodies, but the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) and Ministry f Information & Broadcasting (MIB) as well. Angel investor and industry veteran Lloyd Mathias tweeted: “A truly memorable stint at @BARCIndia by @parthodasgupta. Laid the foundation for quality TV audience measurement in India. Best wishes!” Pradeep Dwivedi, Founder and CEO, Divitiae IN, tweeted: “Dear @parthodasgupta, you fully deserve all the accolades for building credibility, stature, and for your energy and devoted contributions in establishing world’s largest audience measurement system with a great people-first organisation @BARCIndia Best wishes for #NewHorizons.” 

How and where the landing page controversy started is well known, which channels fanned the fire – everyone knows about them as well. BARC and Dasgupta did their best to put out the flames by saying that. The industry body had a closed door meeting on July 4, 2019 to take stock of the developments in the industry. It formed a two-man committee led by Nakul Chopra and Praveen Tripathi to review its data validation and outlier policy, which identifies and eliminates outliers including reach outliers. Just a week before Dasgupta announced his resignation, the committee submitted its report, wherein it stated that the entire process is fair, accurate and unbiased and should be continued. 

During Dasgupta’s tenure as CEO, BARC launched its Out of Home (OOH) TV viewership measurement service in 2018, and in March this year, it announced that will be integrating TV and Out of Home TV viewership in its BARC India Media Workstation (BMW) software. In July 2019, the industry body announced the launch of its new product PrimaVU, which is aimed at measuring viewership from premium homes. Through PrimaVU, BARC India also introduces the industry-first concept of “Viewing Minutes”, which is basically sum of all individuals watching an event basis the time spent by them. 

Now, with Lulla at the helm, BARC India looks ahead to a new chapter. Lulla, who has over 35 years of experience in media and marketing, is no stranger to the world of television, having earlier worked at Balaji Telefilms, Times Television Network, Sony Entertainment Television and MTV in the broadcast space. 

Expectations from Lulla are huge as the landing page and dual LCN issues remain without a successful solution, the broadcast industry is also trying to navigate in the post-NTO world, even as the audience measurement landscape is becoming increasingly complicated. It’s a wait and watch for us all.

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