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Anurag Thakur needs to know what's wrong with BARC ratings; here’s a list

Speaking at a media event on Sunday, the I&B minister highlighted that the media outlets air any accusations levelled by opposition leaders without fact-checking and without offering the right context. So, here are the complete facts in the correct light

Anurag Thakur

Union Minister of Information and Broadcasting Anurag Thakur Sunday insinuated that there was nothing wrong with the ratings system of BARC India. 

Speaking at the Lokmat National Media Conclave on the topic 'Is Indian Media Completely Polarised?', Thakur intended to state that viewers do not like to watch forced content and reject such news channels. But the minister ended up validating BARC India’s rating system in order to prove his point.

The minister highlighted that the media outlets air any accusations levelled by opposition leaders without fact-checking and without offering the right context.

Encouraged by the minister’s advice, lists below all that is wrong with BARC India.

BARC ratings for news channels were stopped for about a year-and-a-half by his predecessor and former I&B minister Prakash Javadekar.

Against the popular belief that the ratings were suspended because of an alleged TRP scam unearthed by Mumbai police, the actual reason was the deep rot in the system revealed by the audit report conducted by Acquisory Consulting. 

Soon after the suspension of TRPs for the news genre, purported chats between Republic Media Network Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami and former BARC India CEO Partho Dasgupta put a stamp on the rot. Moreover, the chats brought huge embarrassment to the government.

Although the Enforcement Directorate gave a clean chit to Goswami in its chargesheet, several questions were raised about the way the investigation was conducted.

Cut to today, it is more than a year since the ratings for the news genre have been resumed with one visible change and that was four-week rolling average, the algorithm of which has been challenged by the stakeholders on several occasions. reported how four-week rolling average is proving to be a deterrent for news channels to invest in any impact property. The latest example of this is Russia-Ukraine war content on TV9 Bharatvarsh beating Prime Minsiter Narendra Modi’s address on Aaj Tak.

Here is what followed later in the form of a Twitter campaign:

Technically speaking, the four-week rolling average was intended to smoothen the high fluctuation in viewership on weekly basis, which might have been a result of external interference in the system such as usage of landing pages or meter tampering.

On the contrary, not only has it failed to stabilise the data over the last one year but it has also allegedly encouraged the news broadcasters to remain consistent with the external interferences in order to keep the ratings smooth.

Moreover, the algorithm of four-week rolling average has resulted in ‘artificially inflated’ Cumulative Reach numbers.

A recent example which must be fresh in everyone’s memory is the viewership data delivered by BARC for Week 09-10 of 2023. The week saw big events of national interests such as Exit Polls and Counting for three North Eastern states, Manish Sisodia’s arrest, Umesh Pal murder case. But amusingly, war content ruled the ratings.

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