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New Delhi: The News Broadcasters Association has demanded suspension of Republic TV’s membership of the Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF) till the case related to alleged manipulation of ratings is pending in court.

Expressing shock over the messages exchanged between BARC India’s former CEO, Partho Dasgupta and Arnab Goswami, managing director, ARG Outlier Media Pvt. Ltd, the broadcasters body alleged that the messages establish collusion between the two in manipulating ratings to garner greater viewership numbers for Republic TV and give the channel an unfair advantage.

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The News Broadcasters Association is a private organisation of different current events and news television broadcasters in India. IBF is a non-profit organisation that represents the interests of the television broadcast industry.

“They not only reflect manipulation of ratings (but) are also about power play. The messages exchanged go on to refer to the appointment of secretaries, Cabinet reshuffle, access to the PMO and the workings of the ministry of information and broadcasting," the statement added.

The NBA Board also claimed that the act of Republic TV damaged the reputation of the broadcast industry and it should be kept out of BARC rating system, pending final court order.

The statement added that NBA has already conveyed to BARC that ratings are unreliable and should continue to be suspended in light of the recent revelations which show the arbitrary nature of functioning at the TV monitoring agency. The Oversight Committee with no representation of broadcasters and only consultants paid by BARC is an eye wash to show autonomy. NBA strongly demands that action should be taken by BARC against these dubious actors and against those who are responsible for ruining the credibility of BARC and threatening to damage the credibility of the news broadcast business.

The fact that BARC possessed a forensic report since July that brought to light these manipulations which was not shared with NBA showed systemic lack of transparency that has prevailed right since its inception, the NBA claimed.

The NBA sought BARC's statement on the veracity of its ratings in the period during the audit, conduct of an audit of the Hindi news genre, expunging of data of erring broadcaster and restoration of rankings of news channels from the beginning.

It also sought to know the concrete steps taken by the body in the last three months to secure ratings, bring transparency to the process and create a system whereby any change to the ratings that impacts the news ecosystem is done only after due consultation with a BARC sub-committee of NBA nominees.

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