At a seminar to mark the fifth National Public Service Broadcasting Day in the Capital on Wednesday, most speakers from the broadcasting sphere raised questions over the relevance of TRP.
Dr N.Bhaskar Rao, Chairman, Centre for Media Studies, said, “It is imperative to maintain a balance between commercial and public interest programmes. But TRP plays the role of a villain as measuring viewership has become a benchmark for popularity and all broadcasters have succumbed to this.” He also said that broadcasters should have public service programmes and not just what interests the public. “Broadcasters have an obligation towards society and this role should not be limited to just Prasar Bharti,” he added.
Taking the argument further, Prof. D.R.Ankur, Director, National School of Drama, said, “The programmes on most commercial channels do not depict reality. Their main focus is evidently money and not public interest.”
K.S. Sarma, CEO, Prasar Bharti, said, “The case with TRPs is that you can’t live with them and you can’t live without them.” .
Another issue that was highlighted was that of funding public service broadcasters. All the speakers strongly supported government funding for channels dedicated to public service. Navin Kumar, Director General, Doordarshan, said, “Pay TV is not available to all. There is a plethora of channels, but none addressing serious issues. Of the 80 million television sets, only 50 per cent are connected to cable. We are now trying to show public service programmes in an interesting way, but that requires innovation and money.”
Organised by the Broadcast Engineering Society (India), the seminar was organised to commemorate Mahatma Gandhi’s first radio broadcast in 1947.