The complaint was filed by the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC)’s vigilance wing with the Marredpally police. This is the latest incident in which BARC has taken action. Earlier, BARC had taken action against viewership tampering in Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, and Assam.
All accused people were detained a few months ago, this is the first time that a charge sheet has been filed. The accused tried to influence viewers in BARC households where meters were installed.
As reported, in July, BARC India had upped its vigilance drive with stronger counter-measures to protect the system from Panel Tampering and other unfair practices with respect to manipulation of television viewership.
Also, in March 2017, BARC India had set up an independent Disciplinary Committee (DisComm) to probe complaints of viewership malpractice. Over the course of last 28 months, 18 cases have been referred to the DisComm with evidence of such malpractices.
BARC had then said that the highest number of instances has been reported from markets in South India: 6 from Tamil Nadu, 5 from AP/Telangana and 1 from Karnataka. Penal action has been taken against 12 channels in the country. It may be recalled that FIRs were filed in Telangana and arrests have been made in Karnataka and Gwalior.
BARC India had said that it is evangelising initiatives like Sample Return Path Data (SRPD), which will not only make the viewership data more robust but will also help address the issue of panel home tampering. BARC India also has a strict code of conduct for redressing viewership malpractices that is undertaken by all entities subscribing to BARC India’s weekly service.
The council has also written to TRAI and Ministry of Information & Broadcasting (MIB) to get regulatory support and legal provisions to make panel tampering a punishable offence.