The Committee set up by the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting to review the TRP measurement in India submitted its report, with 15 key recommendations to the Minister for Information & Broadcasting on January 10, 2011. The report was submitted by the Chairperson, Dr Amit Mitra, Secretary General, FICCI, along with Neerja Choudhary and Rajiv Mehrotra.
Speaking on the occasion, I&B Minister Ambika Soni said that the report provided a roadmap to the I&B Ministry to review the TRP system in the country. Complimenting the work of the Committee, she said that the Committee had reviewed the entire TRP mechanism exhaustively, looking into different parameters associated with the issue. The Ministry would review the recommendations in light of the mandate given to the Committee.
Chairperson of the Committee, Dr Mitra said that the mandate of the Committee was such that it provided an opportunity to view the road forward, ensuring that appropriate measurement mechanisms were put in place.
The Committee has taken note of the fact that an industry-led initiative of broadcasters, advertisers and advertising agencies, called Broadcast Audience Research Council ( BARC), has been formed and duly registered in July 2010 as a Not for Profit Body under Section 25 of the Companies Act. The Committee feels that the self regulation of TRPs by the Industry is the best way to move forward.
The Committee’s recommendations are:
- The Committee has suggested to broaden the constitution of the Board of BARC to make it more inclusive. The company structure of BARC should have representation from broadcasters, advertisers, and advertising agencies, including Public Service Broadcasters. The Committee has recommended that there should be a 12-member Board in BARC, constituting seven members from broadcasters, including the Public Service Broadcaster, three members from advertisers and two members from advertising agencies, including Directorate of Advertising and Visual Publicity (DAVP).
- The Committee has recommended constitution of a High Powered Committee within BARC to guide BARC in the area of research, design and analysis. The representatives of the committee would be eminent members from different fields. The composition of the High Powered Committee would include a statistician of national repute, measurement technology expert, a renowned individual from Civil Society or Judiciary, a demographer, a sociologist, an economist, a business management expert from one of the IIMs, nominee of an eminent institution, a leading woman of national stature and three special invitees from BARC.
- The recommendations of the High Powered Committee would be binding on BARC. The committee further recommended that BARC should consider suitable provisions in their articles of Association and Memorandum of Articles in this regard.
- The Committee has taken a serious view of the small sample size used by the two existing rating agencies in India. The Committee has also observed that the rural areas have been left out from the current system of TRP measurement. The Committee has recommended an increase in the sample size from 8,000 peoplemeter homes to 15,000 urban and rural households over a period of two years, and then to 30,000 over the next three years, covering urban areas, rural areas and small towns, Jammu and Kashmir, and the North East, thereby providing a complete geographical coverage of the country.
- The Committee has suggested that broadcasters, advertisers and advertising agencies should pay a certain percentage of their relevant turnovers to BARC on an annual basis to fund the expansion of sample size for TRP measurement. The total cost of expansion of TRP measurement system over five years would be around Rs 660 crore, which is approximately 0.32 per cent per year of the total TV industry size in India. The committee feels that this level of expenditure should not be very difficult for the industry to meet.
- In order to provide a wider coverage of peoplemeters, the Committee has suggested that efforts should be taken by BARC to reduce the manufacturing cost of peoplemeters by exploring innovation and local manufacturing with indigenisation to overcome financial limitations, which are hampering the increase in sample size. The Committee further recommended that BARC should work in close association with the industry and aid the development of an indigenous market for the manufacturers by ensuring that rating agencies define the specifications of people meters and guarantee a certain demand. The Committee has recommended that as a long term measure, rating agencies should consider manufacturing/ assembling peoplemeters in India itself to bring down the cost.
- The Committee also took note of the fact that peoplemeters attracted 50 per cent import duty, which made them expensive. The Committee suggested that as an immediate short term measure, reduction in the import duty should be considered.
- The Committee has also expressed concern about the lack of transparency in the methodology of conducting the TRP measurement. The Committee has recommended that the selection process of rating agency as well as the TRP measurement process should be carried out in a credible, transparent and statistically robust manner, which should be subjected to financial and process audit. The details of these should be disclosed on the website of BARC by making it available in public domain.
- The Committee has recommended that the rating system should be made compatible with emerging technologies to capture data over different platforms corresponding to penetration levels of respective platforms in TV viewing population, to ensure a holistic picture of the viewers’ preference.
- The Committee has recommended that there should not be any cross-holding between the rating agencies and the broadcasters, advertisers and the advertising agencies to avoid conflict of interest.
- The Committee has recommended that the TRP measurement process should consist of four stages in which the first stage should be designing of survey and quality control research, followed by commissioning and establishment survey. The third stage should be data analysis and report generation followed by Audit. Each one of these stages should be separately commissioned to distinct agencies to achieve unbiased and reliable results.
- The Committee has also felt that at present there is a lot of secrecy exercised by the rating agencies in disclosing the data and methodology used through the process of the entire rating measurement. The Committee has recommended that the guidelines set out in the TRAI Report of 2008 on the key eligibility conditions of rating agencies, general operational, ethical and disclosure norms and standards should be followed.
- The Committee has taken cognizance of the fact that TRP announcements at very short intervals may lead to distortion in broadcasting behaviour. The Committee has, therefore, recommended that the TRP generation and announcement by the rating agencies, particularly for the news channels, should be done once a week with the possibility to increase the periodicity to a fortnight.
- The Committee has also recommended that BARC should set up a Complaint Redressal Mechanism on lines of the model being followed by the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI).
- The Committee has recommended that BARC should initiate changes within its Board and appoint the High Powered Committee by June 2011. The Committee has further recommended that if BARC fails to do so, it may invoke Government action through appropriate legislation such as taking over the regulation of TRP measurement either by asking TRAI to step in or by creating other mechanisms.
An official release from the Press Information Bureau informed that the system of generation of Television Rating Points (TRPs) has come under the close scrutiny of the Government following reports about several lacunae in the present rating system in India. Since TRPs have a major impact on the programming content of television channels, issues of accountability, transparency and objectivity in television rating system assume greater significance as false and misleading rating can hurt not only broadcasters and the advertisers but more importantly the viewing public.
The release also stated that though TRPs are generated in India in the domain of private sector, the Government is aware of the importance of TRPs on the programming content on TV channels and the responsibility, therefore, to examine the issues concerning generation of TRPs. This Ministry had requested the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) to offer their recommendations concerning TRPs. In its recommendations, TRAI had suggested self regulation of TRPs through an industry led body, that is, Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC), with Government oversight. Since BARC was not operationalised by the industry within the time frame as suggested by TRAI, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting constituted an independent committee on May 5, 2010 to examine several crucial issues concerning TRPs in India. The Committee was headed by FICCI Secretary General Dr Amit Mitra.
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