After Trai thundered down on the Broadcasters Audience Research Council (BARC), the council has finally resumed publishing weekly viewership data. After resuming its report, the BARC has put out data for week 13 of the period 23-26 March. The council had stopped sharing data publicly after Trai introduced the new tariff regime in India. Following that, the last report which was publicly available was the week six report, after which BARC did not resume its reporting. In this period, the council was only sharing reports with its subscribers. Last week, the regulator had directed the council to publish the missing reports for the period in between and then it also warned the BARC of appropriate action in case of non-compliance.
BARC in Trai’s Crosshair After Breaching Some Parts of Trai Act
The telecom regulatory authority also asked BARC to explain why it should be spared any repercussions after it had breached some of the sections of the Trai act. In a revert from BARC, the council revealed that it had not stopped publishing its report but had merely stopped sharing them publicly since they were not likely to show the ground reality of the situation following the rollout of the new Trai tariff regime.
BARC India’s spokesperson said in this regard, “BARC India is a joint industry body, and operates under self-regulation model, in compliance with Ministry of I&B Guidelines. In the NTO transition period, due to distribution disruptions (which have been well documented in media reports), there is significant volatility in data.”
Citing that data would not truly reflect the viewers’ choice and also not the ground reality, the BARC Technical committee decided to suspend placing the limited set of data on website temporarily.
BARC Terms Data During Framework Migration to be Misleading
BARC, in its statement further added, “Putting such misleading data on the website would be against public interest and could be misused by vested interests. BARC is constantly monitoring the ground situation on this. We have made detailed submissions to TRAI and MIB, backed by data, on several occasions. Also, we would like to reiterate that there has been no stoppage of data to our subscribers. Every week, our clients have been receiving weekly data without any disruption.”
Trai had also issued a show-cause notice to BARC on March 29, 2019. In this notice, the regulator said that the council did not comply with the regulator’s previous order of February 22, 2019, where it had asked the board to publish the data for the week ending February 8 and also for the subsequent weeks. After this direction, BARC had asked for additional time to get back with a response.
Trai has also remarked that even after proper intimation from the authority BARC had changed its Fair and Permissible Usage policy on February 14, 2019. The authority had asked the audience measurement council not to stop the publishing of rating data and viewership data on its website even during the migration to the new Trai pricing framework until and unless it had explicit permission from Trai.