The Information & Broadcasting Ministry has permitted Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) India to share raw-level TV viewership data with broadcasters.

The Ministry has also said that this should be done in a manner that confidentiality of BARC panels is maintained at all times. The industry body is expected to discuss the process and manner in which it will be shared in its next board meeting.

This comes at a time when certain news broadcasters have expressed concerns about BARC India’s audience measurement ratings system.

In its letter, the Information & Broadcasting Ministry noted that BARC India “requested for being permitted to share audience measurement Raw Level Data (RLD) with broadcasters.”

“BARC may share RLD with the broadcasters in a transparent and equitable manner, while ensuring integrity and confidentiality of the BARC panels is maintained at all times,” the Ministry stated in its letter, which was recently sent to BARC India. It said that it can share raw level data “upto the preceding week.”

The industry audience measurement body also informed the Ministry that the RLD data has been “sufficiently masked and anonymised” and does not include personally identifiable information of panels. Hence, it will be able to maintain secrecy, privacy and integrity of panel homes.

In its letter, the Ministry noted that BARC India has also informed that it has significantly scaled up the panel homes increasing it by about 85 per cent from about 30,000 to about 55,000.

“Further BARC has conveyed that they are already sharing the RLD data with advertisers and media agencies,” the Ministry’s letter. It added that the government’s policy guidelines for Television Rating Agencies in India outlines that data generated by the rating agency should be made available to all interested stakeholders in a transparent and equitable manner.

 BARC India had decided to suspend release of data of viewership ratings for news channels in October 2020 after allegations of rigging of viewership data of news channels emerged. Post the Information & Broadcasting Ministry’s direction, the industry body restarted issuing data of TV news channels in March 2022 after nearly 18 months.