BARC India CEO Partho Dasgupta resigns, Sunil Lulla to step in

BARC India, India’s top TV viewership measurement company, said CEO Partho Dasgupta has resigned, and will be replaced by Sunil Lulla, who was with Eros International Media and Balaji Telefilms before.

BARC said Dasgupta had “relinquished his position” and moved on, indicating that it was a voluntary move.

The change in leadership comes at a time of great turmoil in the Indian media sector, with many TV broadcasting companies — who collectively own a controlling stake in BARC — facing difficulties in maintaining their advertising revenue due to lower ratings than before.

“Things are changing fast and Audience measurement has to keep pace with all these,” Lulla said in a statement announcing his appointment.

Lulla stepped down as CEO of Balaji Telefilms in August last year.

“I would also like to thank Partho for steering BARC through tough times, building a great team and establishing the technology architecture that BARC is proud of,” said Punit Goenka, CEO of Zee Entertainment and Chairman of BARC India.

BARC India had found itself in a quandary in earlier this year after the regulator took exception to its decision to stop giving out ratings data to the public for several weeks.

The decision was taken after several broadcasters — who together control 60% of the company’s voting shares — expressed concern that giving out viewership data during a transition period would give the wrong impression about their channels’ reach levels.

They were worried about the transition of many TV channels from free to pay in February this year after regulator TRAI came up with a new set of channel pricing rules.

The remaining 40% stake in BARC is held by two bodies representing advertisers.

Over the last several days, broadcasters who announced their second quarter results have pointed to weak advertisement earnings, primarily because of a dip in the reach of their channels after these were converted from free to pay.

BARC has, in recent weeks, been trying to expand its sample size by including data collected from direct-to-home service provider Airtel Digital and cable network Siti Networks.