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Commentary: Were Arnab Goswami's Republic channels favoured by BARC's ex-CEO Partho Dasgupta? Data shows otherwise

What was most visible were accusations from news broadcasters that Dasgupta had a soft corner for Arnab Goswami’s Republic channels when it came to weeding out outliers

(L) Arnab Goswami and Partho Dasgupta (R)

When BARC India’s founding CEO Partho Dasgupta hung up his boots in October last year, I wrote about all possible reasons that made him call it quits.

During his tenure as the CEO of viewership measurement body, Dasgupta had faced constant pressure from broadcasters across genres for different reasons.

But accusations that turned out to be personal in nature were mainly over his handling of the landing page issues and that he had a soft corner for Arnab Goswami’s Republic channels when it came to weeding out the outliers (the artificial rise in reach of a channel due to landing page).

Dasgupta was later made a scapegoat by the large broadcast networks for not toeing their line.

In Week 22 of 2019, when BARC did not filter out outliers after a TDSAT ruling, the raw viewership numbers of English news channels presented the real picture of the impact of landing page on their ratings.

BARC had always maintained it was controlling the artificially escalated numbers manually and that is where broadcasters accused the rating body could be favouring Arnab Goswami’s Republic channels.

Cut to today. Three months after Dasgupta’s exit, while Goswami’s English news channel Republic TV is still running strong at No. 1, his Hindi news channel Republic Bharat has come out stronger from a No. 7 player to No. 5 player in the Hindi news genre. Republic Bharat has also been featuring among the top three channels in terms of reach.

Well, Dasgupta is out of the system and Republic channels are still going strong, meaning that the accusations of favouritism had no truth whatsoever. If something was so wrong, Republic channels should have lost their viewership which did not happen. Rather, the measurement system continues to measure what India watches.

In the current week, Week 2 of 2020, Colors is No. 1 among GECs riding on Bigg Boss and other fiction shows. While Aaj Tak remains No. 1, the Hindi news genre has new pecking order at the top with News18 India at No. 2 followed by Zee News at No. 3, India TV at No. 4 and Republic Bharat at No. 5.

Now, the new BARC CEO, Sunil Lulla, will have to handle the regular complaints, which is typically “why the rival channel did better”.

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