Days after the WhatsApp conversation between Republic TV editor Arnab Goswami and BARC India’s former CEO Partho Dasgupta was leaked on the internet, the News Broadcasters Association (NBA) on Monday demanded immediate suspension of Republic TV’s Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF) membership till the TRP manipulation case is pending in the court. The NBA board also demanded that the channel be kept out of the BARC rating system till the probe into the case is complete.
Criticising the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) for “fraudulently” manipulating its ratings of other channels in order to garner more viewership for Republic TV, the NBA demanded legal and police action against those responsible for ruining the credibility of the news broadcast business.
“It is indeed with dismay that NBA notes the fact that in spite of having a damning verdict in its possession since July 2020, BARC sat on the forensic report for several months, which brought to light these manipulations,” read a statement from Annie Joseph, Secretary General, NBA.
The WhatsApp messages shared between Goswami and Dasgupta “only reflect manipulation of ratings but is also about power play”, it said.
The following demands have been made by the NBA Board that BARC:
1. Makes a clear statement about the veracity of its ratings in the period during the audit and also conducts an audit of the Hindi news genre.
2. Expunge the data of the erring broadcaster and restate the real position of rankings of all news channels from the beginning.
3. Explain the concrete steps that have been taken by BARC in the last three months to secure the ratings.
4. Bring transparency to the process and create a system whereby any changes to the ratings that impacts the news ecosystem is done only after due consultation with a BARC Sub Committee of NBA nominees.
5. Explain what penal actions are provided for in the BARC constitution against broadcasters who have indulged in manipulation of ratings of this magnitude and what action will be taken in the current case.
6. Ratings of news channels remain suspended till such time all details of such actions taken by BARC are shared with the stakeholders.
The board also demanded an explanation from the BARC on the huge financial losses incurred by news broadcasters due to the corrupt data released by it for months.