Times Now ‘s Rahul Shivshankar happy with current Barc rating process 

Shivshankar believes Times Now is back as a leader after the Barc reform.

Mumbai: Times Now editorial director & editor-in-chief Rahul Shivshankar is happy with the current Broadcast Audience Research Council (Barc) ratings process, which he claims is fair and authentic compared to pre-blackout and post-rating resumption data. Rahul Shivshankar shared the current Barc rating and compared it with pre-blackout data, where the Times Now’s rating was allegedly tampered with.

"Today, you can see the system is clear. It is clean. Now we can have arguments over how many metres there should be and whether the system is representative enough or not. But I'm only talking about the process. The process suggests there is absolute clarity," said Shivshankar.

Shivshankar accused rival channel and former Barc CEO Partho Dasgupta of malpractices in 2018, saying, "We were writing a large number of letters constantly to the former CEO of Barc. And we constantly showed and pointed out anomalies even in the raw data; there is something about our numbers that is suddenly weak even in markets where we were very strong."

He further added, "So there was obviously a mismatch, anecdotally, between what was happening. We did not know at that time, but there was a mismatch on two accounts. One was due to the alleged manipulations that were taking place on the ground, for which the Mumbai police filed cases, and the other was due to more organised activity at the stakeholder level. At the CEO level, he's the main stakeholder who really embodies the person who determines the impartiality of the system. So for us, he's the main stakeholder."

Shivshankar is pleased with the current system, noting that the television rating points (TVTs), which were previously 686 and are now 699, have not decreased. "The share, however, has seen a massive change, and the time spent has seen a massive change (from 24 per cent to 40 per cent). We believe that because of the internal manipulations. I am not talking about the parameters here. I'm not talking about the accusations of on-ground fixing that were happening at the barometer level. I'm talking about the manipulation that was alleged to have happened, and there is a post in the audit report."

Shivshankar said, "Every time we do a story, it creates ripples. Others would pick it up. Now why would anyone pick up the work of a channel that is not really being watched?"

He claimed that the figures were being deliberately lowered. And they were only being selectively targeted because they were seen as the market leader, even by a fellow competitor.

"We have no problem with their methodology. We only realised we had a problem with one individual. And that individual was not executed, according to the police today, according to the cases that have been fought against that person."

Shivshankar blasted, "Because of one person in Barc, hundreds of Time Now employees have had to be let go because of this one person's activity in collusion with a proprietor, etc., which has actually brought darkness to so many homes of so many of our colleagues during that time. There is a very real human cost to this manipulation."

Apparently, between 2017 and 2019, Times Now lost ad revenue and took a hit of almost Rs 400 crore.

Shivshankar believes that Times Now, as the leader in the market, gets twice the amount of ad revenue because of FCT volumes than any other channel in the English news genre. "Our biggest indication is that the people who spend money on English news are still spending with the same vigour on Times Now, for no other channel but for only Times Now. Which tells you that at the end of the day, we are by far the most credible market leader out there," he said.

"The quality of the leadership and the data matters to all stakeholders. That's why we are in the market where it matters in the categories that matter in the genre where we are: English news should be assessed. We are the leaders, and there will be no doubt about my competency, content, and popularity," he concluded.

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