- In a shocking development that exposed a leaked chat between Arnab Goswami and BARC India’s erstwhile CEO, Partho Dasgupta, it has left the News Broadcaster Association (NBA) stunned.
NBA has mentioned that there was collusion between the two which unfairly manipulated the ratings to gather greater viewership number by the Republic TV month on month by fraudulently reducing the ratings for other channels.
The NBA statement read, “NBA’s Board also wants to place on record that the corrupt data released month after month has not only led to reputation loss but has also caused huge financial losses to news broadcasters for which BARC, is duty-bound to give an explanation.”
Quoting the viewership ratings to be unreliable, the news broadcasters’ industry body has relayed to BARC that the ratings of these news channels, in the wake of recent events that exhibit the arbitrary nature of functioning of the viewership rating body.
NBA’s communique quoted, “”These WhatsApp messages not only reflect manipulation of ratings but are also about power play. The messages exchanged go on to refer to the appointment of Secretaries, Cabinet reshuffle, access to the PMO and the workings of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. This only confirms the many and continuous allegations made by NBA in the last 4 years that ratings were being manipulated by a non-NBA member broadcaster in connivance with BARC’s top management officials.”
NBA has also demanded that IBF membership of Republic TV must be cancelled immediately till the case related to the manipulation charges is sorted in court.
Another statement by NBA read, “The Oversight Committee, with no representation of broadcasters and just consultants paid by BARC is an eyewash to show autonomy. NBA strongly demands that BARC should take action against these dubious actors, legal and police action should also be taken against those who are responsible for ruining the credibility of BARC and threaten to damage the credibility of the news broadcast business.”
The statement continued, “It shows that there are no checks and balances and the ability of a few within BARC to easily change the ratings as they deemed fit, making the system subjective to the whims and fancy of the management versus being an objective transparent system.”
NBA also pointed out the fact that BARC refused to release the forensic report that held the key to all these manipulations since July 2020. They continued, “This is a glaring example of the systemic lack of transparency that has prevailed right since the inception of BARC. BARC did not share the data with the NBA on the grounds of confidentiality, no action was taken against the erring broadcaster…. In fact, even after the new management took charge, wide-scale manipulation has continued.”
It continued saying, “Not only did BARC not share the data with NBA on grounds of confidentiality, no action was taken against the erring broadcaster, no penalty and no Discom proceedings were initiated. In fact, even after the new management took charge, wide-scale manipulation has continued.”
A notice has also been sent to BARC to delete the previously manipulated ratings and release the original ratings to establish where these news channels stand at the moment.
The NBA statement finished quoting,
“1. Makes a clear statement about the veracity of its ratings in the period during the audit and also conducts an audit of the Hindi news genre.
2. Expunge the data of the erring broadcaster and restate the real position of rankings of all news channels from the beginning.
3. Explain the concrete steps that have been taken by BARC in the last three months to secure the ratings.
4. Bring transparency to the process and create a system whereby any changes to the ratings that impacts the news ecosystem is done only after due consultation with a BARC Sub Committee of NBA nominees.
5.Explain what penal actions are provided for in the BARC constitution against broadcasters who have indulged in manipulation of ratings of this magnitude and what action will be taken in the current case.
6. Ratings of news channels remain suspended till such time all details of such actions taken by BARC are shared with the stakeholders.
“NBA’s Board also wants to place on record that the corrupt data released month after month has not only led to reputation loss but has also caused huge financial losses to news broadcasters for which BARC is duty bound to give an explanation,” the NBA statement says.