TV ratings manipulation: Express CEO given 10 days to submit replyPakistan
KARACHI: The Pakistan Broadcasters Association (PBA) has granted Chief Executive Officer of Express Media Group — a private media organisation — Sultan Lakhani ten days to submit his reply regarding alleged manipulation of viewership ratings through employees of a TV ratings company, Medialogic.
PBA, taking notice of Lakhani's absence from the meeting, also extended for ten days the temporary suspension of Express group's membership from its panel.
Third-party international auditor Robert Ruud of Robert Ruud Analysetjenester attended the fifth meeting of PBA's board of directors held on Saturday and presented his opinions regarding tampering of viewing patterns of households in favour of Express channels.
He also responded to queries put forward by members of the PBA board of directors.
Read: PBA temporarily suspends Express group’s membership
Earlier on September 11, PBA had “temporarily” suspended the membership of Express and issued a show-cause notice to the media network for alleged manipulation of viewership ratings through employees of a TV ratings company, Medialogic.
During previous meetings of the PBA's board of directors, which included Sultan Lakhani, a third-party international auditor Robert Ruud of Robert Ruud Analysetjenester had been tasked with the responsibility to conduct an independent audit into the operations of Medialogic against Express.
Later, in a report submitted to the PBA, Ruud had concluded that after analysing eight-month data from sample clusters, there was undeniable evidence of a significant increase in viewership, "where all household members began watching exact same minutes per week to the Express channels. This cannot happen without clear instructions on how the household should be watching the Express channels."
He later stated, "The auditor cannot find a logical explanation for this viewing pattern except outside influence of the households."
Chief executive officer of TV ratings company, Medialogic Pakistan, Salman Danish, while addressing members of the media fraternity on September 8 had claimed that the Express Media Group is involved in ‘malpractices’ to increase television ratings for its TV channels.
“They were bribing Medialogic employees to increase their TV ratings,” said Danish, while presenting what he said were cheques and drafts received by Medialogic employees from individuals connected to the Express Media Group.
Danish further claimed that the TV channels had profited by upto Rs450 million from the altered TV ratings at the behest of the entire electronic media industry.
But the media group had claimed that the ratings agency was trying to extort Rs450 million from it.
In an earlier report in the Express Tribune, the media group said the ratings agency chose its own employee, Shaista, and asked her to testify that Express News had pressurised households to tune into their channels.
On Shaista’s refusal to cooperate with Medialogic, The Express Tribune claimed that she and her family were harassed by Crime Investigation Agency (CIA) officials in Rawalpindi, adding that the victim is seeking justice from relevant authorities.