Exposed: TV news rating fraud, channels were fixing numbers

Broadcast Audience Research Council, BARC, Television news channels, TRAI and the Information, Broadcasting Ministry. NewsMobile

Each time you watch television news there is a slug fest of rival channels jostling with each other claiming to be number one, now it has emerged that some of the channels were fudging to fix the numbers, according to the body that is known to be the premier Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) revealed that Television news channels have been using unlawful means to boost their ratings and at least three prominent news channels have been banned for three weeks.

While officially BARC refused to comment, In the latest update from BARC, it claimed that it is aware of rating fraud attempts in certain regional markets by various TV channels. It has also now issued notices to some other channels.

BARC is an industry body which was brought into bringing in transparency in the television rating system following instructions of the TRAI and the Information and Broadcasting Ministry.

BARC now further investigating to get hold of other malpractices, sources told NewsMobile.

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Sources say that the idea was to clean up the TV rating System so that the audiences and advertisers get the correct numbers.

However the rating systems also have its challenges in a country of India’s size, There are only 22,000 audience meters across India to asses TV ratings.

These metres are attached to the TV sets and the number of viewing time and other related data is measured and then a sample is done. The metres are installed in households with various income groups and age groups. Divided amongst metros and non-metros the data is measured and then weekly numbers are collated and released.

The scandal came to light when senior BARC officials led by its CEO Partho Dasgupta smelled a rat, they used a detective agency to investigate some cable operators.

The revelations were eye opening, In some cases, those who had installed the audience metres were bribed to watch a particular channel or a program, which boosted the numbers.

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There is another challenge in the rating system, no meters were installed in any office or cafeteria. Some metres were in homes where agencies paid as low as RS 400, to pay to influence their watching habits.

So next time you are watching TV news shows and they trumpet the rating bogey. Go by your instincts and other variables though now the cleaning process has begun.

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