BARC India refers to the Broadcast Audience Research Council India which includes bodies like broadcasters, advertisers, and media agencies. Former CEO Partho Dasgupta and Former COO Romil Ramgarhia are behind bars. CEO of Republic TV is also arrested. These three were included among the 15 people who have been arrested so far.
They are arrested for the so-called “TRP Scam” in India. There was a driving manipulation of data which continued from 2016 to 2019 by Dasgupta according to the Mumbai joint commissioner Mr. Milind Bharambe. It is also noticed that BARC had commissioned a third-party auditor to check the integrity of the data. It was found that there were manipulations and alterations of reality. “Times Now” was manipulating rated second despite them securing top ratings and Republic TV was made number one position.
Bharambe also said that there were three methods used in the auditor’s report to manipulate the data. The 44,000 bar-o-meters installed in households were manipulated by BARC India through the Outlier method, Changes in the meta-rule, and Channel audience control. Several meta-rules were changed at the head office level. The discrepancies recorded by the auditor were found started in 2016 and continued till 2019. The report was submitted in July 2020. Here comes the question why didn’t the stakeholders- IBF, AAAI, and ISA take immediate action against the management? Ramgarhia, Dasgupta along with some other senior officials resigned from BARC India’s management earlier this year. Nearly for the manipulation of TV Rs. 18,400 crores were spent in FY16, in FY17 Rs 20,300 crore, in FY18 Rs 22,400 crore, and on advertising, on television Rs 25,100 crores of money were spent in FY19.
BARC India’s credibility is being questioned and a set of recommendations were bought by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) in April 2020. The issue’s recommendation was ‘Review of Television Audience Measurement and Rating System in India’. This review system was issued based on several stakeholder’s concerns relating to the neutrality and reliability of the existing rating system. TRAI also suggested that BARC India should have at least 50 percent, independent members. This should include one member as a measurement. This restructured policy will allow the broadcasters from the controlling chair in BARC’s board.
Let’s see whether the BARC India could withstand the storm.