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Last Updated : Oct 22, 2019 10:34 PM IST | Source: Moneycontrol.com

Audience measurement firm BARC gets new CEO, Sunil Lulla replaces Partho Dasgupta

Partho Dasgupta who was the CEO at BARC since 2013, announced plans to relinquish his position.

The Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) has got a new CEO as the company announced a change in leadership on October 22.

Partho Dasgupta, who was the CEO at BARC since 2013, announced plans to relinquish his position. He will be replaced by Sunil Lulla who brings over 35 years of media and marketing experience.

“It has been a tremendous journey to setup the world’s largest audience measurement company with the least investment and in the quickest time. Having set it up, expanding the panel and introducing new insight products for news, sports, music and OOH genres, I thought its time to move on and do new things. I have enjoyed setting up new businesses and brands and turning them around both in media and consumer space and it’s time to explore new domains,” Dasgupta said.

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Talking to Moneycontrol, Paritosh Joshi, Principal at Provocateur Advisory, an independent media and communications consultant who was part of BARC’s founding team, said that Lulla brings to the table years of experience from different sectors including digital, broadcast, advertising.

"He brings everything that is required to strengthen BARC and strengthen television measurement, screen agnostic measurements in India. He brings high familiarity and credibility, Lulla has also served on the board of BARC,” he added.

BARC is now focusing on going digital, and Lulla has experience in this space as one of the earliest entrants, Joshi continued.

Agreeing with Joshi was Darshan Bhatt, Director of GoQuest Digital Studios. He said, “BARC has been trying to get into the OTT measurement side. May be that would have swung the decision considering that he [Lulla] understands digital.”

Lulla had entered the online space with indya.com back in 2000. Indya.com was a one-stop online space for content, shopping, travel, jobs, personal finance until it fell apart. Things did not go well with Indya, but Lulla was and is still known as a maverick leader credited with turning around brands like MTV and Sony Entertainment.

As a general manager at music label HMV (now Saregama), he rolled out MTV in India. He worked on entertainment channel Sony and was part of the launch team of The Times Television Network.

In 2018, Lulla joined Balaji Telefilms as group chief executive officer, prior to which he was chairman of Grey Group India, an advertising agency.

However, the varied roles taken by Lulla in a short span of time makes his stability questionable. Bhatt pointed out that in the last decade Lulla has taken up six to seven assignments.

After Real TV (launched in 2009) he moved to Times, then Grey then AltBalaji. He announced his entrepreneurial venture two to three months back.

Nonetheless, while Lulla has donned many hats, he would have to prioritise things at BARC.

N Chandramouli, CEO at TRA Research, said that the need of the hour is a credible rating agency as it is the only mechanism that advertisers have to compare audiences. Such a firm will need a credible leadership which Sunil should provide.

“The government is looking at ratings. It is an important part of what advertisers get. And it is not a small amount of money. Billions of dollars are spent on advertising. The one or two years when print did not have IRS [Indian Readership Survey] there was huge chaos and the same thing happened when you had the TAM problem. So, a credible rating agency is needed, but it remains to be seen as to how much investments will be made in BARC, as the company has increased its penetration,” said Chandramouli.

As for Joshi, there is one issue of perception for which BARC has taken a fair amount of heat in the last year that needs to be addressed.

“The news business has been vocally critical of BARC. This will be the first thing that Sunil will have to take care of after taking charge. Plus, he is familiar with the news business,” he said.

BARC needs to stay focused on its job which many years ago Punit Goenka defined as what India watches is what BARC must measure, he added.

“And the challenges of what India watches is becoming far more complex than the time BARC had started. There is so much diversity in the kind of options available. The panel has expanded from 20,000 to over 40,000 homes which are under the meter. So, there has been expansion. There is some more expansion that needs to come. But after TV watching gets done there are other battles to deal with which the new CEO and the governing system and the technical committee will have to get after,” said Joshi.

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First Published on Oct 22, 2019 09:59 pm
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