Zee Media to remove channels from BARC due to landing page issue

News broadcaster Zee Media Corporation Limited (ZMCL) has decided to withdraw from the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) India TV audience measurement system. The company cited the landing page issue as the reason for taking such a drastic step.

ZMCL becomes the second TV news network after NDTV to withdraw its channels from BARC India. Previously, NDTV withdrew from BARC due to alleged infirmities in the rating system. He demanded that the council expand its sample size to ensure the measurement process cannot be rigged or manipulated.

Similarly, ZMCL said that it has consistently requested BARC India to take remedial action on the landing page issue but to no avail. The newscaster demanded that the landing page data not be included in the final audience and that the audience count time be increased to 2 minutes.

A senior company official confirmed the development to e4m saying he had written a letter to BARC communicating his decision to opt out of the audience measurement system. The decision to leave BARC India was taken following a meeting of the News Broadcasters and Digital Association (NBDA) on Friday.

“How can our channels’ ratings continually decline when we are the most distributed news network in the country and our digital products are number 1, according to ComScore? It is a defiance of logic. We are suffering because we don’t use landing pages,” said ZMCL Chief Commercial Officer Joy Chakraborthy.

ZMCL owns and operates 14 TV news channels including 1 global channels, 4 national channels and 9 regional channels. It also owns 5 digital channels and 17 digital brands.

“We’ve been in constant contact with BARC about the landing page issue. We’ve pointed out to them that our reach isn’t reflected in our viewership numbers. Our numbers are low even though we agree, for love of the argument, that our audience has gotten impacted due to the exit of one of our main anchors. Our time spent hasn’t decreased much either,” he added.

While clarifying that ZMCL is not anti-BARC, Chakraborthy noted that the board needs to get its act together on the landing page issue. “What we’re suggesting is that BARC should have an algorithm that doesn’t measure landing page data.”

Asked about BARC’s claim that it has algorithms capable of detecting any unusual viewership activity, Chakraborthy retorted, “So how come newcomers to the market are seeing such an increase in their viewership? “During our field trips, we discovered that many of the channels that aren’t that popular with viewers are still doing well in those markets. All thanks to landing pages.”

The ZMCL CBO demanded that BARC India stop counting the audience of the landing page and increase the time spent measuring the audience to 2 minutes. “We’re just asking BARC to make this a level playing field by omitting the data from the final audience landing page, as this is a forced audience. Second, the time spent counting the viewership should be increased to 2 minutes as this will capture a real audience,” he claimed.

Asked about the likely impact of not being measured by BARC India on the network’s ad revenue, Chakraborthy said clients and agencies know the kind of value ZMCL channels offer. “Clients are aware of our strength and that’s why we have the highest number of clients despite our declining audience. Our inventory is full and we’re also getting the rates we’re looking for.”

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