The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has issued a show-cause notice Broadcast Audience Research Council India (BARC India) for not complying with its direction on the public release of TV viewership data.
In a statement, BARC India has reiterated that it has not stopped publishing viewership data. Rather, it is not publishing the data publicly on its website since the data will not reflect ground realities in view of the implementation of the new tariff order.
“BARC India is a joint industry body, and operates under self-regulation model, in compliance with Ministry of I&B Guidelines. In the NTO transition period, due to distribution disruptions (which have been well documented in media reports), there is significant volatility in data,” BARC India spokesperson said in a statement.
“Due to this, and the fact that data in this period does not truly reflect viewers’ choice, BARC India Technical Committee and Board took a decision to temporarily suspend placing the limited set of data our website.”
It further stated, “Putting such misleading data on website would be against public interest and could be misused by vested interests. BARC is constantly monitoring the ground situation on this. We have made detailed submissions to TRAI and MIB, backed by data, on several occasions.
“Also, we would like to re-iterate that there has been no stoppage of data to our subscribers. Every week, our clients have been receiving weekly data without any disruption.”
The show-cause notice dated March 29 states that BARC India did not comply with the past TRAI direction, dated February 22, 2019, seeking immediate release of viewership data for the week ending February 8 and subsequent weeks on its website. BARC had then approached the TRAI and sought additional time to respond.
In its direction, the regulator had noted that BARC India has modified its Fair and Permissible Usage Policy on February 14 even after being repeatedly asked by the authority to not stop publishing of rating data and viewership data on its website during the migration to new regulatory framework until and unless explicitly permitted by the authority.
The BARC India decision, it said, is in contravention of the direction of the authority dated 21st December 2018 and 14th January 2019.