Zee Media Corp, which owns 14 national and regional news channels including Zee News, Zee Hindustan and WION, Friday pulled out from BARC ratings with immediate effect.
In its late evening communication sent to BARC, Zee Media is learnt to have sent a one-liner email stating its decision to pull out.
However, the public position of the company is that they pulled out because of the landing page issue which has been a bone of contention for the news broadcasters ever since the ratings for the news genre resumed on March 17.
Speaking to BestMediaInfo.com, Joy Chakraborthy, Chief Business Officer, Zee Media, said, “The discussion around pulling out from BARC ratings was going on for 3-4 months. We have never been against BARC and we always contributed with constructive suggestions. We asked them to increase the duration of minimum time spent by a viewer on any channel to two-minute for being measured in order to measure the loyal viewership. We understand that ministry has also been pushing for the same.”
“However, nothing has moved. Despite the repeated requests, BARC has not been able to address our concerns around landing pages which continue to rule the rating algorithm. There is no point staying in a flawed system which does not represent the choice of people. Rather, the system is representing the broadcasters who resort to unethical business practices to inflate their TRPs. The existing system does not provide a level playing field for all the broadcasters,” Chakraborthy added.
Last week, I&B Ministry had withdrawn its permission given to Zee Media to uplink its 10 regional channels on Ku-band due to which the channels were telecast on DD Freedish without participating in DD Freedish auction.
Ministry said that it revoked the approval in order to create a level playing field for smaller broadcasters.
Asked about the timing of the decision coinciding with the ministry’s order, Chakraborthy said that the decision to pull out from BARC is not at all related to the ministry’s order. “We have been contemplating this for a long. So are many other news channels. It was just about who takes the plunge first.”
While advertisers understand the flaws in the BARC data, the Indian Society of Advertisers on a few occasions have issued advisories to its member advertisers to independently assess the situation and take an informed decision with respect to the channels that exit BARC while dealing with advertisements.
On being asked about the impact of revenue, Chakraborthy said that all the aspects were taken into consideration before deciding to pull out. “Our advertisers have faith in us for over two decades. We have spoken to most of our advertisers and we expect them to back our decision. As a legacy brand, Zee offers advertisers an unmatched value proposition to them.”