The Broadcast Research Council of India (BARC) has made the new contract for its subscribers and the clauses stricter than before. The End User Licencee Agreement (EULA) has been revised to include all the details and definitions of malpractices, disciplinary council and what will happen if a subscriber is found guilty. May 5, today, is the last day of signing the contract by the subscribers.
BestMediaInfo.com has a copy of the contract procured from multiple sources in the industry from the subscribers.
According to the new contract, ‘viewership malpractices’ will include any activity or abstinence from any activity or a promise to do or abstain from doing any activity whether individually or in a group of persons; whether directly or indirectly; with an aim of manipulating or altering or tampering (i) the viewership pattern(s) and / or (ii) habits of a panel Household(s), and /or (iii) the viewership data and / or (iv) any of the process leading to generation of ratings, which does or may result in altering the ratings of any television channel or television programme or an advertisement or any saleable media content in any manner or in a manner that is in breach of EULA.
It is not that the viewership measurement agency was not taking action against the defaulters till now. In separate cases when they were found guilty of malpractices to impact viewership, channels like India News, Raj TV, TV9 Telugu and V6 News faced wrath from BARC India. The rating agency had first suspended the publication of their data for four weeks which was later stayed by respective High Courts.
However, this time around, BARC India has made it a point to include all the details of possible action that will be taken against anyone who is picked up by the Disciplinary Council. In March this year, BARC had set up the council to keep an eye on those who try to tamper with data.
The new EULA clearly mentions, “The Disciplinary Council can initiate actions like:
i. First offence: Written warning to the relevant subscriber and a penalty of Rs 25 lakh
ii. Second offence: Written warning to the relevant subscriber; subscriber’s name to be published in the watch list on the website of BARC India and a penalty of Rs 50 lakh;
iii. Third offence: Written warning to the relevant subscriber; subscriber’s name to be published in the watch list on the website of BARC India and one month’s suspension of relevant TV channel, i.e. viewership data of the relevant TV channel(s)’ from the subject subscriber(s) shall not form a part of the ratings for one month and a penalty of Rs 1 crore;
iv. Fourth offence: Termination of the EULA with respect to specific TV channel, BARC shall be entitled to retain the licence fees accrued by BARC India till such date of termination.”
The council is a six-member team headed by Justice MukulMudgal, Former Chief Justice, Punjab and Haryana High Court, and has D Shivanandan, Former Mumbai Police Commissioner and DGP Maharashtra and Paritosh Joshi, Independent Technical Expert as its members. Sujeet Jain, Group General Counsel and Company Secretary, Viacom18; CVL Srinivas, CEO South Asia, GroupM and PankajPhadnis, AVP Corporate Legal, Godrej Consumer Products Limited (GCPL) as the other members, representing the three stakeholder bodies -- IBF, AAAI and ISA.
The revised EULA has also clearly mentioned that the subscribers have to agree to adhere to the code of conduct at all times during the term of the contract. It also mentions that BARC is an absolute owner of the licensed data and the licensed software, and has absolute discretion to suspend the ratings of any channel(s), in accordance with the code of conduct and decisions of the Disciplinary Committee.
The objective of BARC’s efforts is to provide a rating system that is fair, transparent and free of any influences and malpractices. BARC and its stakeholders, the Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF), the Indian Society of Advertisers (ISA), and the Advertising Agencies Association of India (AAAI), have a zero-tolerance policy towards any attempts to influence the integrity of the ratings.
BARC is required to supervise and maintain a reliable and transparent rating system, which can be achieved only with the complete cooperation of and adherence to the terms of the EULA by the subscriber. Panel households form the core of BARC’s rating system.
To offer a level playing field to all the subscribers, and to provide them with fair ratings, BARC shall on an on-going basis investigate any abnormal viewership data recorded by the meters installed by BARC at panel households. Further BARC shall make objective and system driven correction of abnormal spikes or falls in any panel household(s)’s viewership pattern.
BARC India has also mentioned about its vigilance teams that are in charge of investigating viewership malpractices across the territory.