TV18 wants to know why BARC is bending rules for Republic Bharat

PW Bureau 

Recently-launched Hindi news channel is categorised outside its declared “Hindi news” genre on several cable networks, says TV18

New Delhi: The Hindi spin-off of Arnab Goswami’s news channel, Republic Bharat, is under scrutiny as Indian television company TV18 Broadcast Ltd has written to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), complaining against Republic’s incorrect genre categorisation. The recently-launched Hindi news channel, owned by Goswami’s ARG Outlier Asianet News, was launched on February 2 and is categorised outside its declared “Hindi news” genre on several cable networks, says TV18.

Republic Bharat placed in a way that it garners higher ratings

TV18 alleged that Republic Bharat’s incorrect genre classification allows them to illegally increase viewership and garner higher ratings by television monitoring agency Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC). Sources said that the Hindi news channel has also been placed on the landing page of 72 cable networks.

“We verily believe that the said channel is being deliberately and mala fide, placed outside its genre at the behest of broadcaster of Republic Bharat so as to enable Republic Bharat to illegally garner higher BARC ratings and increase viewership,” TV18 said in a statement earlier this month to TRAI.

Republic Bharat reaches 73 million in first week

While surpassing all other launches within the Hindi genre in the last three years, Republic Bharat posted a reach of 73 million in its opening week, said BARC.

A TRAI spokesperson said to the regulator has already received the complaint and the issue is being examined. Republic Network CEO, Vikas Khanchandani, refused to comment on the story.

“Channel gets sampled in non-Hindi news genre”

“This so because genres, where Republic Bharat is being placed either, have better viewership and ratings when compared with Hindi news genre or ensure that Republic Bharat catches viewers’ attention and gets sampled in non-Hindi news genre. As such, by placing Republic Bharat in non-Hindi news genres, an unfair and undue advantage is being given to Republic Bharat when compared with competing channels that continue to be listed in correct/Hindi news genre,” the statement added.

Around 100 cable networks in India including Star Cable Network Omnero Media Pvt Ltd and Digitel Cable Network, in places such as Aklera (Rajasthan), Haridwar (Uttarakhand) and Hamirpur (Himachal Pradesh), are allegedly classifying Republic Bharat incorrectly.