Arnab Goswami’s Republic TV became the most-watched news channel in the country in its launch week, Barc (Broadcast Audience Research Council) India said on Thursday, prompting an exit from the council by English channels affiliated to the News Broadcasters Association (NBA) which, earlier this week, asked the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) to take action against Republic for alleged unethical distribution practices. Republic ended the week to 12 may with 2.11 million impressions, 84.4 percent higher than that of Goswami’s former employer Times Now, Barc said.

Times Now was the top English channel for the first 18 weeks of 2017. Impressions, also known as television viewership in thousands (TVT), refer to the number of individuals in thousands of a target audience who viewed an event, averaged across minutes.

NBA, earlier in the week, said that Republic TV had been registered by various cable distribution platforms multiple times under different genres, making the channel appear more than once in their electronic programme guide (EPG), in violation of Trai interconnection regulations.

The association asked Barc to withhold viewership data of Republic TV until the channel stopped doing this.

On Thursday, after Barc went ahead with the release, English channels affiliated to NBA pulled out of the council.

In a letter, NBA told Barc that it had “gone ahead and released the inflated and corrupt data for Republic TV as of this morning. This has serious implications and has caused irreversible damage to India’s existing English news TV Channels.” Mint has reviewed a copy of the letter.

An NBA spokesperson declined comment.

Republic’s entry at the top wasn’t unexpected.

“It’s a big bang launch but that was the expectation all along. Arnab has come out with a different type of journalism, which resonates well with the audience,” said Ashish Bhasin, chairman and chief executive, Dentsu Aegis Network South Asia.

Bhasin added that advertisers will have to wait to see how sustainable the ratings are over the next few weeks.

“I feel blessed with the love, support and the massive viewership that Republic TV has received. It reaffirms my faith that people watch what they find credible,” Goswami said in a statement.

Times Now, run by Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd. (BCCL), garnered 1.14 million impressions between 6 May and 12 May, followed by New Delhi Television Ltd-owned NDTV 24x7 which recorded 0.35 million impressions.

BCCL is also the publisher of The Times of India and The Economic Times.

A Times Now spokesperson declined comment.

HT Media Ltd, the publisher of Mint and Hindustan Times, competes with Times Group publications in some markets. – Live Mint