The Broadcast Audience Research Council of India (BARC) has, over the past 28 months, initiated penal action against 12 channels across the country to scale up its vigilance drive against home panel tampering and manipulation of TV viewership data.
According to a BARC statement, an independent disciplinary committee (DisComm) had been set up in 2017 to probe complaints of viewership malpractice. So far, 18 cases have been referred to the DisComm with evidence of such malpractices, with the highest number of instances reported from markets in South India: 6 from Tamil Nadu, 5 from AP/Telangana and 1 from Karnataka. “Penal action has been taken against 12 channels in India. It may be recalled that FIRs were filed in Telangana and arrests have been made in Karnataka and Gwalior,” BARC said.
Headed by Justice Mukul Mudgal, former Chief Justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, the BARC DisComm has representation of all three industry bodies: Indian Broadcasting Federation (IBF), Indian Society of Advertisers (ISA) and Advertising Agencies Association of India (AAAI).
The panel also comprises of D Sivanandan, former Mumbai Police Commissioner and Maharashtra DGP, and Paritosh Joshi, independent technical expert.“Panel home tampering has long plagued the industry and the giant strides tha BARC India has taken to tackle this menace and the sanctions imposed have proved an effective deterrent. Along with my other committee members, we are firm in our resolve to eradicate such malpractices from the industry and shall impose appropriate sanctions as and when required.”said Justice Mudgal.
The agency is also pushing for initiatives like Sample Return Path Data, which is expected to make viewership data more robust and help address the issue of panel home tampering. The agency also said it has also engaged with TRAI and Ministry of Information and Broadcasting to get regulatory support and legal provisions to make panel tampering a punishable offence.