Mumbai: Gwalior police has registered a case against seven people on charges of tampering the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) Sample households and manipulating the BARC data in Madhya Pradesh in favour of a particular Hindi TV news channel. Madhavganj police in Gwalior had arrested three of seven alleged offenders based on the complaint launched by Hansa Research Private Ltd.
It is understood that Manipulators had approached the households and offered them monetary incentives to watch a particular Hindi News channel, in-order to enhance the Viewership ratings of the particular channel through fraudulent means.
The market research firm, Hansa Research Private Ltd., that has undertaken the task of collecting Viewership data from BARC Sample homes learned about the fraud and reported it to a police station in Madhavganj, Gwalior. The Company is one of the partners that the BARC has signed up with to take care of the different processes involved in audience measurement.
Following the complaint, it found out the name of the company, which resorts to such activities in enhancing TRPs by allegedly offering Rs 500/- per household. Considering the seriousness of the matter, the authorities have undertaken the matter for further investigation.
The name of the Hindi News Channel is not being revealed as the matter is still under investigation.
This is the third incident in the recent past where the people trying to manipulate BARC data had been arrested. The first was during January 2018 where Five persons arrested in Bengaluru on charges of tampering data in Bangalore, where a TV Producer himself was arrested. Followed by that in March 2018 BARC India got FIR filed in Telangana and five people were detained for tampering Panel Homes.
Despite so many arrests, the Channels involved in such kind of malpractice were not known, as the investigators are safeguarding it due to unknown reasons.
Name shaming the culprits and exposing them to the market is the best way to keep such tampering efforts under control. BARC India is helpless, as it can’t do anything beyond launching police complaints.
Industry observers feel that BARC should take proactive steps to mobilise the support of the stakeholders and represent the issue before the government for a speedy investigation in such cases under the economic offence as it involves huge investment in the form of advertisement expenses and revel the names of the perpetrators.