19 Oct 2017
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BARC alleges foul play, files police complaint against tampering panel homes

MUMBAI: Partho Dasgupta had first made the startling revelation at TelevisionPost.com’s ‘Digitise India’ seminar that a workforce member of BARC was lured into divulging addresses of homes where the TV rating agency’s meters were installed.

“Over the last seven months, we have seen in a few cities some incidents like these where one of our workforce members was paid Rs 1 lakh cash to disclose the names of 10 home addresses and another Rs 4 lakh would follow,” Dasgupta had said while answering questions from Dish TV managing director Jawahar Goel after giving a keynote address at TelevisionPost.com’s ‘Digitise India’ seminar in Delhi.

Dasgupta had pointed out another instance where executives from TV channels were trying to bribe BARC panel homes to watch their shows. That the incident was from a city in South India was all the BARC CEO was willing to share at that time.

Now, several months later, BARC and Kerala TV Federation (KTF) have lodged a police complaint against certain individuals in Kerala for locating and influencing BARC panel homes. The police would investigate the matter further.

The case was filed after BARC India’s vigilance team had received complaints regarding frequent attempts at retrieving addresses of BARC India panel homes with a view to influencing them. KTF is a trade body representing Malayalam channels in Kerala.

BARC said that its vigilance teams had gathered conclusive evidence of more than one effort to tamper with BARC India’s TV viewership measurement system in favour of a couple of channels.

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It further said that preliminary scrutiny by the on-ground vigilance team had confirmed that attempts had been made by some individuals to not only find out addresses of BARC India panel homes, but also to incentivise them and influence their viewership.

These acts are causing a lot of worry to BARC India and the Kerala broadcasting community in general, leading to financial loss and loss of reputation.

BARC India immediately quarantined the impacted panel homes from its TV viewership measurement system to ensure efforts at infiltration did not impact ratings of channels operating in the region.

“TV industry trades on the currency released by BARC India, and we understand how important every rating point is to the broadcaster. We have evidence of a couple of broadcasters trying to tamper with our panel homes to improve ratings,” said Dasgupta.

“We have taken steps to quarantine the affected panel homes. While we have filed a complaint this time, we want the industry to be aware that going forward BARC India will stop publishing ratings for channels found involved in such activities.”

Incidentally, BARC replaces 25% of its panels every year to take care of such cases.

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