Zee Media pulls out its 14 news channels from BARC ratings

After NDTV, now Zee Media has decided to quit from BARC Ratings. Apparently miffed at the way BARC is functioning, Zee Media has pulled out its news channels from BARC India.

In a statement issued, Zee Media called its decision “a milestone for the whole News media industry” and pointed out that there are more than 5-8 million people associated with the news and broadcasting industry at large who get impacted adversely if incorrect reporting is published by the rating agencies.

Zee Media further alleged that “it has been observed in the last few months that the News genre is being shown shrunk by BARC to extend the benefit to GEC and other genre at large”.

The news broadcaster said that it had raised its concern multiple times to BARC and had questioned the whole structure and their operation transparency towards the news industry, but the ratings agency had failed to rectify the News industry’s and Zee Media’s concerns.

According to Zee Media, the “biggest concern and challenge is that BARC has not given any solution nor accepted as they are continuing reporting for Landing Pages & barker pages, which impact ratings favourably for those who use these at the peril of others who do not subscribe to these unethical practices”.

A top Zee official, speaking to Adgully on condition of anonymity, said that BARC’s algorithm should not measure landing page data. He alleged that despite having a strong news distribution network, Zee’s news channels’ ratings were showing a continuous decline. According to the official, this was due to the reason that Zee was not there on landing pages.

The official further stated that Zee had been continuously apprising BARC about the situation and had also asked the ratings body to increase the time spent duration for counting viewership to 2 minutes. According to him, this will help capture genuine viewership.

Meanwhile, Zee Media in its statement issued also pointed out that the News genre has been continuously shown to be shrinking since BARC News ratings data resumed after a blackout of around 17 months, vis-a-vis prior to the blackout of the data, when this “genre was at its peak”. “In spite of multiple meetings and conversation with BARC, the agency not only failed but has not been able to explain such a steep fall. Drastic change in viewership is hurting the News genre’s revenue/ perception to the advertising fraternity. This is the biggest fall in the last 25-30 years of the industry, which is unprecedented and far from reality,” Zee Media emphasised.

Referring to the TRP manipulation case that jolted the news TV genre in 2020, Zee Media in its statement alleged, “BARC has not given any white paper on the TRP Scam until now”, and added that it was a matter of great concern that it was still not clear who all were involved in this malpractice and if they (people/ channels) are still part of the system and also what action has been taken against them.

Along with this, Zee Media said, “We have also repeatedly pointed out that a far larger sample (of meters) is needed if BARC is serious about ensuring a measurement process that cannot be rigged or manipulated, which also they have failed to address until now.”

The broadcaster claimed that digitally, Zee News is No.1 in ComScore as well as in You Tube, which it said “is the real data and cannot be manipulated”. “However, BARC ratings show the completely opposite and different picture... and again points out to inconsistencies of the reporting methodology,” it added.

Zee Media went on to note that BARC’s new process of data reporting (4 weeks rolling average vis-a-vis earlier daily/ weekly) is also a big concern and  added that “due to this, the research has no meaning or outcome to the content producers and they cannot plan or validate content performance”.

“On the whole, as an industry body, we believe that due to monopoly of the ratings agency, the industry is suffering at large,” the broadcaster alleged and added, “Hence, Zee Media has decided to move from the ratings agency and we have asked them to stop reporting Zee Media’s all 14 channels with immediate effect.”

The contentious issue of the BARC’s functioning comes to the fore once again. Is it a sign of more TV channels following the suit? Some broadcasting executives have long expressed their dissatisfaction with the BARC ratings.

While exiting BARC prior to the resumption of the news ratings, NDTV had said, “NDTV has been among the earliest and biggest proponents of an exercise to clean up a dirty (and shockingly open) secret: a ratings system that misleads advertisers, and their agencies, by grossly misrepresenting each channel's market share.”

NDTV had further stated, “BARC, the organisation, which generates the ratings, is well-aware of what is needed and must serve its purpose by urgently cleaning up its act.”

This caustic comment by NDTV is a measure of the frustration and disenchantment shared by at least some of the news channels in the country. Broadcasters were saying that nothing has changed in BARC. There has been no fundamental change in the way the BARC functions.


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