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Reversing watermarking decision, English news channels return to BARC

MUMBAI: English news channels affiliated to the News Broadcasters Association (NBA) have returned to the BARC TV rating system.

After pulling out of BARC a week back and removing watermarking from their feeds, they have reversed their decision. The channels have reinserted the watermarking.

What this means is that BARC will continue to capture the ratings of these English news channels.They include Times Now, India Today Television, CNN News18, NDTV 24×7 and NewsX.

As reported earlier, the release of data by BARC on 18 May had prompted all the English news channels barring Republic TV to pull out of the council as a mark of protest. The data showed Republic TV grabbing almost half of the market share in the English news genre.

The NBA had urged BARC not to release the viewership data of Republic TV until the newbie English news channel stopped using multiple LCNs (logical channel numbers). In its letter, the association had told the rating agency that if the release of the data was not delayed, it would amount to ‘aiding and abetting such malpractices’, which could have serious implications for the news broadcasting industry in India.

“Given your indifference to the serious situation at hand, we are left with no option but to advice some of our aggrieved members to opt out of BARC’s watermarking system with immediate effect until there is appropriate redressal of our grievance. We hope good sense prevails and urgent corrective action is taken by BARC,” NBA secretary general Annie Joseph had written to BARC India CEO Partho Dasgupta.

A couple of days back, the Delhi High Court dismissed TV Today Network’s petition as withdrawn following Republic TV’s statement that they have declared themselves only in the news and current affairs genre. TV Today Network, which owns and operates Aaj Tak and India Today TV channels, had filed a petition in the Delhi High Court seeking a direction to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) and BARC to ensure that any broadcaster, TV channel or distributor that is in violation of TRAI regulations should be proceeded against as per law.

High drama has followed ever since Arnab Goswami launched Republic TV on 6 May. Besides the war of words between Arnab and his former employer The Times Group, the NBA has separately urged the TRAI and BARC to step in so that Republic TV corrects what it alleges as ‘unethical distribution practices’.

Meanwhile, Republic TV retained its grip on the English news genre after emerging as the No. 1 channel in its launch week itself. The channel reported 1.7 million impressions in the week ended 19 May, according to BARC data. At No. 2, Times Now was almost half of Republic TV’s weekly impressions.

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