BW Businessworld

English News Channels War Intensifies; Rivals Pull Out Of BARC As Republic Tops Ratings

According to the weekly viewership data by Broadcast Audience Research Council of India (BARC) released on May 18, the channel topped the English News Channel category with 2.1 million impressions in its first week

The launch of Arnab Goswami's English news channel Republic TV is creating buzz for more than just its news content and sting operations. According to the weekly viewership data by Broadcast Audience Research Council of India (BARC) released on May 18, the channel topped the English News Channel category with 2.1 million impressions in its first week.

Republic TV had released a tweet on May 18 that according to the BARC data, Republic TV got 51.8 per cent share followed by Times Now with 24.5 per cent, India Today with 8.1 per cent, NDTV with 6.9 per cent, CNN News18 with 6.64 per cent and News X with 1.78 per cent.

The measurement space has always been important for the English news channels, despite the share of the genre in the overall pie. However, with the release of this data, major English news channels, part of the News Broadcasters Association (NBA), have decided to challenge the numbers from BARC and pulled out from BARC. These include India Today, Times Now, News X, CNN News18, and NDTV 24x7.

According to sources, the NBA had earlier written to BARC to withhold the Republic TV ratings, accusing the network of running on multiple feeds.

In a comment to BW Businessworld, an NDTV spokesperson said on the decision, "NDTV has consistently maintained that there is something terribly wrong with the way television ratings are measured, yet for lack of an alternative have been part of the current system. Unfortunately these flaws and malpractices have seen a spike recently. Consequently, today, we along with other major English news channels have decided to exit the current BARC ratings system till this issue is addressed. We hope this will be resolved soon."

Speaking on the development, Republic TV's Vikas Khanchandani, CEO, Republic TV, said to BW Businessworld, that this move is not in the interest of the industry. "A few members of the NBA are using the industry body to drive personal agendas and in turn are diluting the role and image of the body. The fact that many of the existing members are actively using dual as a marketing tool is not being highlighted. It is absolute immaturity on their part and unfortunately they are dragging other members as well. BARC is built by the industry for the industry. Opting out of BARC is an irrational move and not in the interest of the industry. Republic stands by BARC and will continue to be the most impactful platform to the advertisers who are looking for an independent and trusted news platform," he added.
The Times Network declined to comment on the report.

The current situation is reminiscent of 2013 when multiple broadcasters had pulled out of Television Audience Measurement (TAM) over issues related to fluctuations in ratings from LC 1 towns.

In a statement to BW Businessworld, BARC said that their mandate does not extend to monitoring LCNs (logical channel numbers). Further clarifying BARC's stance, the spokesperson said, "BARC India was set up with the mandate to measure what India watches, and our measurement system delivers exactly that. We have a transparent policy on the matter of measuring channels which has been consistently applied to all channels who subscribe to our measurement. It is a common distribution strategy among various TV channels, particularly News Broadcasters, to place their channels on multiple LCNs and across genres in the past, and they continue to do so even now. We are clear about our position - we measure viewership of channels basis their unique Watermark ID, irrespective of the platform the channel is available on or the number of instances within the platform. BARC India neither monitors channel placements across the various DTH platforms/cable head-ends in the country, nor does it have the mandate to do so."

According to BARC's data from May 18, Republic TV's 2117 impressions (000s) were followed by Times Now at 1148 impressions (000s), while NDTV 24x7 was at 352 impressions (000s).

"In the past, we have measured multiple LCN instances of channels as per our policy, and reported them as one channel and the same principle has been applied to our data released yesterday. BARC India is not the regulatory body for resolving issues concerning multiplicity of LCNs for a channel. Ideally these issues should be sorted among broadcasters themselves rather than dragging BARC India into these. We will continue to measure what India watches," the BARC spokesperson added.

(With inputs from Taniya Tikoo)

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