Anurag Batra questions Centre’s sudden move to resume BARC ratings
Says political parties’ budgets for news channels “are huge” amid Assembly polls
New Delhi, Jan. 13 (Delhi Crown): Anurag Batra, one of the top media personalities, has stirred up a hornets’ nest over Minister of Information and Broadcasting Anurag Thakur showing his haste in “ordering” BARC (Broadcast Audience Research Council) to resume ratings with immediate effect.
Batra is Chairman & Editor-in-Chief of Businessworld, and also runs Exchange of Media portal.
BARC had in October suspended the ratings for all news channels, saying it was done “to improve their statistical robustness and to significantly hamper the potential attempts of infiltrating the panel homes”.
BARC was in no mood to resume the weekly TV ratings anytime soon.
Anurag Batra wrote in his piece that in a meeting with government officials on December 16, BARC CEO Nakul Chopra had asked the ministry to consider giving the agency more time since it would want to get all its stakeholders on board and then need 10 weeks’ lead time to resume ratings.
“The question is, why has government rushed into this decision now despite that request and directed BARC to resume TRPs at the earliest?” asked Batra.
However, on Wednesday the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting in a sudden move asked BARC to release the News ratings “with immediate effect”, and also to release the last three months data, for the genre in a monthly format, for fair and equitable representation of true trends.
In his piece posted in www.exchange4media.com, Batra posed a question – “Is this a political decision taken by the government with the elections in the key states of Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Uttarakhand due over the next 30 days? There was an unspoken divide amongst broadcasters on whether to resume the ratings ASAP or not. The view to get the ratings back seems to have prevailed. Is this a way to get the narrative back? Is this a way to divide media again and rule it even more effectively?” said Anurag in a piece written by him in his portal “Exchange4Media”.
Batra went on further to say that the budgets from political parties for news channels in particular, and digital channels in general, for the next 30 days “are huge”. “Will this measure also help the political masters get a better bargain from the news channels?” asked the media mogul.
“These are indeed, poignant questions to ponder on,” concluded Batra.