The News Broadcasters Association (NBA) on Monday said that Republic TV should be kept out of the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) rating system till final court order, stating that the manipulation of ratings by the channel has damaged the reputation of the broadcast industry. It also demanded suspension of Republic TV’s membership of the Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF) with immediate effect until the case related to manipulating TV ratings is pending in the court.

Expressing shock over messages exchanged between former BARC CEO Partho Dasgupta and ARG Outlier MD Arnab Goswami, NBA said the messages establish collusion between the two in manipulating ratings to “garner greater viewership numbers for Republic TV month after month by fraudulently manually reducing ratings of other channels.”

“NBA’s Board also wants to place on record that the corrupt data released month after month has not only led to reputation loss but has also caused huge financial losses to news broadcasters for which BARC, is duty-bound to give an explanation,” the statement added.

Seeks action against dubious actors

Stating that viewership ratings are unreliable, the news broadcasters’ industry body has conveyed to BARC that ratings of news channels should continue to be suspended, in light of revelations that show the arbitrary nature of functioning of the viewership rating body. “The Oversight Committee, with no representation of broadcasters and just consultants paid by BARC is an eyewash to show autonomy. NBA strongly demands that BARC should take action against these dubious actors, legal and police action should also be taken against those who are responsible for ruining the credibility of BARC and threaten to damage the credibility of the news broadcast business,” it said in a statement.

NBA also noted that BARC sat on a “damning” forensic report that brought to light these manipulations since July 2020. “This is a glaring example of the systemic lack of transparency that has prevailed right since the inception of BARC. BARC did not share the data with the NBA on the grounds of confidentiality, no action was taken against the erring broadcaster…. In fact, even after the new management took charge, wide-scale manipulation has continued,” the news broadcasters association added.

It has now asked BARC to expunge the data erring broadcaster data and restate the real position of rankings of all news channels from the beginning. It has also requested BARC to give information on concrete steps taken in the last three months to secure the ratings. Among other measures, It has also asked BARC to create a system of transparency and to only make changes to ratings mechanisms after due consultation with a sub-committee of NBA nominees.