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No crisis for BARC, our data is proved & authentic: Sunil Lulla

BARC stakeholders continue to repose their faith in the organisation, says Lulla.

NEW DELHI: As the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) continues to battle the controversy surrounding its TV viewership ratings, its chief executive officer Sunil Lulla asserted that the issue has become a matter of the past, and the agency’s data remains true, reliable and authentic.

“The data is proved, it's true and authentic and trusted by thousands of advertisers. It’s about a Rs 30,000-crore business in television. What we are reading about in the media, is being duly investigated… It was about a few individuals, not the company,” Lulla said during an exclusive interview given to CNBC TV18.

He highlighted that the three stakeholders and owners of BARC continue to repose their faith in the organisation.

While he may paint a sanguine picture, concerns are mounting over the prolonged suspension of viewership ratings of news channels. Last month, a consortium of national and regional TV news outlets wrote to the ministry of information and broadcasting (MIB), urging it to direct BARC to restore weekly ratings. Lulla told CNBC TV18 that the organisation would roll out the data as soon as its board gives a go-ahead to the new process suggested by the technical committee. 

“We have been through a process; we have now understood how we want to report. The matter is with the stakeholders. When the stakeholders are ready and aligned we will roll the data,” he added.

With regards to the impact of the Covid2019 pandemic on TV viewing in 2020, Lulla said non-prime time TV viewing recorded tremendous growth during the lockdown period. “TV viewing was at its peak. It has never seen that kind of viewing. The average time spent went up by an hour; from 3 hours 42 minutes to 4 hours 48 minutes. People were watching TV, seven days a week and at peak that number went up by 110 million individuals watching television seven days a week,” detailed the BARC CEO.

He highlighted that people had faith in television, even when there was no original programming. "TV is and will always be the screen of the household.”

However, Lulla expressed concerns over some individual broadcasters who may leverage certain peak performance within a day or week, to show how strong they are and termed it unfortunate. "One needs to analyse the viewership of at least four to thirteen weeks to make a decision," he said.

Defending the relevance and legacy of BARC amid the alleged TRP scam, Lulla said, "We all know that BARC is owned by three stakeholders and operates under the purview of the licence it has obtained from the MIB. The government always recognises a need for a stakeholder body to work together. There is no such crisis for BARC. We will soon be doing a Broadcast India survey, which we could not do last year."

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