The Broadcast Audience Research Council on Thursday said that it will pause weekly ratings for news channels for three months and review its measurement system, amid a row over the alleged manipulation of Television Rating Points by three media organisations.

The suspension of ratings will apply to all Hindi, regional, English and business news channels with immediate effect.

“Starting with the ‘News Genre’, BARC will cease publishing the weekly individual ratings for all news channels during the exercise,” the organisation said in a statement. “This exercise is expected to take around 8-12 weeks including validation and testing under the supervision of BARCs Tech Comm. [Communications]. BARC will continue to release weekly audience estimates for the genre of news by state and language.”

 “In the light of the recent developments, BARC Board has proposed that it’s Technical Committee (Tech Comm) review and augment the current standards of measuring and reporting the data of niche genres, to improve their statistical robustness and to significantly hamper the potential attempts of infiltrating the panel homes.”

— Broadcast Audience Research Council

BARC Chairperson Punit Goenka said that “recent developments” had made it necessary for the organisation to review its protocols. Chief Executive Sunil Lulla, meanwhile, affirmed the organisation’s commitment to “faithfully report” ratings.

Television Rating Points, or TRPs, is a metric provided to judge what programmes are viewed the most. It gives an index of the choice of the people and also the popularity of a particular channel.

TRP row

The fake TRP racket was uncovered earlier this month when BARC filed a complaint through Hansa Research Group, alleging that certain television channels were rigging TRP numbers. Hansa Research is one of BARC’s vendors on engagement with panel homes, or “people’s meters”. Republic TV, Box Cinema and Marathi channel Fakt Marathi were accused of TRP manipulation during the preliminary investigation.

On Wednesday, Republic TV’s Executive Editor Niranjan Narayanaswamy and Senior Executive Editor Abhishek Kapoor appeared before the crime branch of the Mumbai Police to record their statements in the case.

The Mumbai Crime Branch on Monday said that they had arrested a former Hansa Research employee named Vinay Tripathi from Uttar Pradesh. The officials said that he played a key role in the scam and had paid another accused to manipulate ratings. The police also recorded the statements of two senior officers from Hansa Research.

The police have also arrested the owners of Box Cinema and Marathi channel Fakt Marathi, Shirish Shetty and Narayan Sharma. They will remain police custody till October 16.

‘Republic TV Chief Executive Officer Vikas Khanchandani had appeared before the Mumbai for questioning in case on Sunday. The TV channel’s Chief Financial Officer Shiva Subramaniyam Sundaram was supposed to appear before the police on Saturday, but he asked for a reschedule citing “personal commitments”.

Also read:

  1. TRP scam: ‘Have faith in High Courts,’ says SC as it rejects Republic TV’s plea against summons
  2. Two top Republic TV editors appear before Mumbai Police in TRP scam
  3. TRP scam: Republic TV CEO Vikas Khanchandani appears before Mumbai Police for questioning
  4. TRP scam: Mumbai Police chief says no vendetta against any channel, complaint filed by private firm