What the BARC CEO wrote to reassure subscribers amid TRP scam

Amid the raging controversy over TRP manipulation, Sunil Lulla, CEO, Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC), has written to BARC YUMI subscribers that its ratings continue to remain true to purpose.

While stressing that as a data science driven joint industry body, BARC deals only in facts and evidence, Lulla shared five key facts:

  1. BARC India has authorised Meterology Data (MDL), which is a subsidiary and functions at arm’s length, to undertake panel home operations through its authorized vendors. One of such authorised vendor is Hansa Market Research (Complainant in the FIR filed at Kandivali, Mumbai), who is authorised to undertake the Panel Home installation, maintenance, and operations in Mumbai on behalf of MDL under an agreement with strict confidentiality.
  2. The work was being carried out by the Hansa employee in the rank of Relationship Manager (RM). BARC’s Vigilance Team reported that five BARC India panel homes, serviced by Hansa, were showing some abnormality. As is the protocol, Hansa was advised to investigate further. The Hansa audit showed that the said employee was suspected to be involved in tampering and influencing the panel household members.
  3. Basis the information provided by Hansa, Mumbai police registered a FIR dated 6.10.2020 against the said employee in the Kandivali Police Station in Mumbai Circle, Maharashtra.
  4. The Mumbai Police are now investigating the matter and BARC India is providing the necessary information and support asked of it by the authorities. The suspected homes have been removed from reporting.
  5. It is important to recognise that any attempt to compromise panel homes or influence viewership through unscrupulous means is unlawful, and BARC has strictly followed our established Vigilance and Disciplinary Committee guidelines to deal with such isolated attempts.

Lulla maintained that despite what was being reported in the media, “our governance continues to be robust and all of us at BARC continue to be driven by only one goal: to generate ratings that you rely on which are deeply rooted in science, free of any bias and truly reflect ‘What India Watches’.” To demonstrate the strength and independence of BARC’s ‘audience estimates’, Lulla presented the following facts:

  1. We have ensured unbiased measurement, data collection, processing and validation by separating these functions and the data science & measurement team works directly under the guidance of the Technical and Oversight Committees, whose members include Industry experts.
  2. As a part of our ongoing ‘Data Quality and Validation’ led by the Oversight Committee, we have in place the governance needed to ensure that the audience estimates you rely on are rooted in sound scientific principles, based on rigorously and independent analysis of data and the subsequent release of results is free of human intervention.
  3. BARC’s Technical Committee, which has expert representation from each of the industry stakeholders, oversees and guides the research design and methodology of the studies that form the heart of BARC’s ratings systems.
  4. Despite over 44,000, and growing, metered households spread across the entire country, we recognise that BARC is not insulated from intrusion attempts by unscrupulous individuals through various forms of inducement. Hence, we have taken several steps to ensure that these attempts are quickly identified, and the homes are de-installed, removing their impact, if any, on audience estimates. We continue to strengthen our vigilance mechanism and also leverage data science rigorously ensuring the audience estimates robustly reflect actual viewership.

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