The television industry got some clarity on the ratings measurement front from the Government. The Union Cabinet on January 9, 2014 approved the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting’s (MIB) comprehensive regulatory framework for television rating agencies in India.
The guidelines include norms and procedure for the registration of agencies, shareholding pattern, equity stakes and the review of performance of the TV rating agencies.
MIB had taken up the issue with the Union Cabinet after the guidelines were approved by the Inter-Ministerial Group. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) had recommended the “guidelines for television rating agencies” in September 2013. Sources indicate that the guidelines have been accepted by the Cabinet verbatim.
The guidelines indicate a clear norm over cross-holding methodology, secrecy, privacy, audit, and public disclosures of the rating agencies. The guidelines also state that 30 days time will be given to the existing agency to comply with the norms. The rating agency will also publish all its mechanisms on its website and will also submit the same to the Government on monthly basis. Also, the number of panel homes shall be chosen from a certain number of households, which will be chosen through an established survey.
In case of non-compliance of guidelines over cross-holding, methodology, secrecy, privacy, audit, public disclosure and reporting requirements, the rating agency shall receive forfeiture of two bank guarantees worth Rs 1 crore furnished by the company in the first instance, and, in the second instance shall lead to cancellation of registration.
With this approval, the Government has addressed issues of transparency and accountability in the ratings scenario. Broadcasters in 2013 were very vocal about the fact that the existing and only television rating agency TAM’s ratings are inadequate and that they don’t represent the grassroot data. Some broadcasters such as NDTV had earlier sued TAM.
Commenting on the development, a TAM spokesperson said, “We would not like to react to the Cabinet report as of now.”