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"Not a big deal," say media agency heads on no ratings for news channels speaks to the top media agency heads to understand if BARC’s decision to suspend data for TV news channels will affect media buying of the genre

Image courtesy: The Quint

Television rating body BARC on Thursday decided to suspend the weekly ratings of the news genre for 8-12 weeks to review the current standards of measuring and reporting of data.

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The audience measurement agency will, however, release the weekly audience estimates by language and states.

How will this change media planning for the news genre? Experts suggest that there’s unlikely to be a major impact.

Shashi Sinha

According to Shashi Sinha, CEO of Mediabrands India, the ratings of the past will be considered. “The total contribution of the news genre is 8-10%, so I don’t think it’s a big problem. We don’t rely much on ratings for news genre. Various other factors are considered while buying spots on news channels. For ratings, some will consider data for past 4-8 weeks, some will look at the past 13 weeks and some will consider past one-year average numbers,” he said.

Ashish Bhasin

Ashish Bhasin, CEO APAC and Chairman India, dentsu, said, “The news genre is 10% of the entire industry, so 90% is not affected at all. For the 10%, data from the past is still available. You will also be getting data by language, by state, etc., for the genre. The only thing you won’t be getting is the channel-wise rating for a temporary period of 8-12 weeks. I don’t think it will make a significant difference in terms of planning in any case.”

“When you do plans, they are usually yearly or quarterly. It's not like the stock market where every minute something is changing. Most of the news channels are bought in any case at an effective rate and not so much on TRPs because of their niche and relative size. I don’t think it will make a significant difference in that sense.”

“On the other hand, if the period of reset or relook helps make the currency and the system a lot more robust, in the end, it will benefit all credible players. Because the more credible and accurate the rating is and the more loopholes are closed, the better it is for all the professional players concerned,” he added.

Asked if the broadcast of toxic content in the last few months will be considered, Bhasin said that viewership data has nothing to do with content. “If a channel has a viewership of x, that data is available, now it's up to the planners how she or he wants to use it. Measurement and content are two very different things,” he said.

Anupriya Acharya

According to Anupriya Acharya, CEO, Publicis Groupe South Asia, “BARC temporarily hitting the pause button on the ratings of news channels should be viewed as a positive step because it helps both BARC and the industry to reflect, take stock and bring in corrective action if and as needed. It should help in removing any apprehensions various parties may have. As for any impact on the genre, since it is a temporary suspension of ratings for some weeks, we do not expect much adverse impact. The news genre overall is doing very well in terms of viewer interest, especially in the Covid-19 environment.”

R. Venkatasubramanian

R. Venkatasubramanian, National Head, Buying, Havas Media, said, in the absence of BARC data, other peripheral data becomes extremely critical for channel selection. “Like in the case of radio, where for most cities data is not available, other numbers become parameters to judge the station. A similar scenario will be seen when news channels are not reported. Factors like talkability of the channel, popularity and integrity of the news anchors (they play a vital role in the credibility of the information output), their social media following and that of channels (indicative of the level of engagement with the audience), their digital presence and footprint, the sentiments for the channel or the hosts, will become really important to consider and recommend a channel for brand campaigns.”

“The previous 12 weeks’ data would show a close to accurate trend for the viewership of the channel/genre. In addition, we can do a genre-level analysis and see if the numbers for the genre are stable or dipping. This will give a good indication of the genre performance and help planners track any kind of anomaly or aberration,” he said.

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