As Lulla ends his two-year-long stint as BARC CEO, we take a look at the ups and downs of his journey After two years of an eventful ride, Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) India Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Sunil Lulla has put down his papers. An industry veteran with over 35 years of media and marketing experience, Lulla joined the television viewership measurement body in October 2019 when he replaced the company's first CEO Partho Dasgupta. But ever since he took charge, the journey has been nothing less than a rollercoaster ride for him. As his remarkable stint at BARC India comes to an end, exchange4media looks at some of its key highlights. Though there were many challenges that Lulla faced during his tenure at BARC, the biggest one which created a lot of noise in the industry was the TRP scam. Last October, the Mumbai police claimed to have unearthed the scam naming a national news channel and some regional channels for allegedly tampering with BARC data. Later, Dasgupta and BARC COO Romil Ramgarhia were arrested for their alleged involvement. Lulla too was questioned by the police several times in connection with the scam. A massive controversy followed the busting of the scam and BARC, under the leadership of Lulla, decided to pause the viewership ratings of Hindi, regional, English news, and business news channels. In an attempt to assuage the situation, Lulla then wrote to all the subscribers clarifying them that as a data science-driven joint industry body, BARC deals only with facts and evidence. “It is important to recognise that any attempt to compromise panel homes or influence viewership through unscrupulous means is unlawful, and BARC has strictly followed their established Vigilance and Disciplinary Committee guidelines to deal with such isolated attempts,” he had claimed. “In spite of what may get reported or opined in the press, our governance continues to be robust and all of us at BARC continue to be driven by only one goal: to generate ratings that you rely on which are deeply rooted in science, free of any bias and truly reflect 'What India Watches'. We at BARC take our role in generating the currency audience estimates with the greatest sense of responsibility so that you can be assured that your investment decisions are based on unbiased and empirical statistical measurement," he wrote. The TRP scam was not the first controversy that Lulla had to face as the BARC CEO. Within months of taking charge, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), in April last year, issued a set of recommendations for BARC India in terms of the television audience measurement body's structure, governance, operations, transparency and accountability. Replying to TRAI’s recommendations, Lulla had notably remarked, "We are doing a good job. We've got that proof not only from the people in the media but from many other sources, including the government. TRAI had put out a consultation in 2018 and BARC was a party to that. We had made our submission but TRAI did not carry this out in the manner in which we did. So we've always believed that what we do is statistically relevant, scientific and based on technological robustness. We work really well with the three constituents of advertisers, agencies and broadcasters. We are a business body and nowhere in the world is a business body as integrated as it is here. It's not influenced by any government. We operate it fairly independently and that is what we do." Notwithstanding the controversies, Lulla marched ahead introducing several initiatives at BARC. Under his leadership, the company brought algorithms into its data validation method to mitigate the impact of landing page on the viewership data across all genres of channels. This was part of its 'Data Validation Quality Initiative' aimed at improving measurement science and mitigating the impact on viewership of extraneous factors. However, this too had its share of controversy, as though most broadcasters welcomed the move, some expressed concerns over its implementation, transparency, and effectiveness. Going further, BARC also released a detailed report, 'Crisis Consumption on TV and Smartphones', in 2020 in partnership with Nielsen India. Another important change brought about by Lulla was BARC’s transition from using the term 'Impressions' to 'Average Minute Audience'. Also, BARC India, along with its Technical Committee (TechComm), released 'TV Universe Estimates 2020' (TV UEs), which plays an important role in structuring BARC India's sample design and ensuring the selected panel represents a true microcosm of India. A few weeks back, BARC launched an ad campaign #MeasuringMoments that reaffirms the importance of television in Indian households, and also showcases the accuracy in viewership trends. A seasoned media professional, Lulla has helmed the leadership role across many companies, including- Balaji Telefilms, GREY Group India, Times Television Network, Indya.com, and MTV.