After a series of allegations about bias within its system, the television viewership measurement agency Broadcast Audience Research Council India (BARC India) has been backed by various stakeholders, which have condemned all these claims.
BARC India, set up by the industry to accurately measure television viewership across the country, received feedback from its subscribers regarding certain malicious, baseless and grossly inaccurate statements made in public regarding its operations and organisation structure.
In its official statement, BARC India said, “Although the allegations do not merit a response, in keeping with the spirit of transparency, BARC India feels it is essential to highlight a few points to its stakeholder community.”
In one of the media reports, BARC was accused of having a bias towards a certain broadcaster and a certain agency network. However, structurally, BARC India is a joint industry body set up by the Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF), Indian Society of Advertisers (ISA) and Advertising Agencies Association India (AAAI), adhering to Section 8 of the Companies Act. It is a debt-funded company, and there is absolutely no foreign direct investment in it.
Being an industry body promoted by IBF, ISA and AAAI, BARC India is neither owned by any broadcaster/ advertiser/ agency, nor controlled by any single company. Therefore, in its press statement, BARC India clarified, “The question of undue influence of any single entity on BARC India’s operations simply does not arise. It has a strict governance structure as laid down in its articles of association, which ensures its ‘arm’s length’ relationship with all stakeholders.”
Punit Goenka, President, IBF, said, “We take pride in saying that BARC India works in an extremely transparent and neutral environment. Its data adds immense value to industry, and we would encourage and support it to remain focused on the great work its team does, and not get detracted by false statements and unattributed innuendos. BARC India has established a measurement system at par with international standards, which should be a matter of pride for the industry.”
BARC India’s systems and processes have been accepted by the industry, and also lauded in global forums. The robustness and credibility of BARC India's data is further testified by regular audit of its processes by reputed international firms like Ernst & Young and CESP. With a sample size of 135,000 individuals across the nation, BARC India operates the largest TV sample/panel in the world – much larger than the US TV sample of 90,000.
Sunil Kataria, Chairman, ISA, said, “BARC India has provided the industry with something it has been seeking – a robust and state-of-the-art measurement system that reports all India TV viewership with a high degree of fidelity. BARC India data helps advertisers reach and understand consumers even in the most remote and unexplored areas. It enables the Rs 25,000-crore advertising industry to take informed decisions since the data is truly representative of ground reality.”
BARC India was set up as per Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s recommendation of implementing a self-regulation model, under a joint industry body. None of its board members represent any particular company – they all are nominated by their respective stakeholder bodies.
Nakul Chopra, Chairman, BARC India and President, AAAI, said, “I am dismayed to see these incorrect and baseless remarks that have been made with no facts to support them at all. That too against the sanctity of a body set up jointly by the industry in the best interest of all stakeholders. BARC India should in fact be applauded as a shining example of how an entire eco system has come together to create a world-class measurement system that is one-of-its-kind. It should be applauded as in these positive and progressive times it provides essential and reliable data that is powering many industries make better decisions towards economic growth.”