Broadcasters’ suggestions for BARC: Move to RPD & census-based method, expand sample size

BARC promises to strengthen measurement system. Television networks against any change in BARC’s shareholding pattern

by exchange4media Staff
Published - Feb 21, 2019 8:18 AM Updated: Feb 21, 2019 8:18 AM

While everyone waits for the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) to start providing weekly ratings of TV channels and programmes again, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has opened a forum to seek suggestions from shareholders and TV broadcasters on the rating system.

TRAI has uploaded a consultation paper on its website, ‘Review of Television Audience Measurement and Ratings in India’.

BARC currently has three shareholders-- Indian Broadcasting Foundation (broadcasters, 60 per cent), Indian Society of Advertisers (advertisers, 20 per cent) and Advertising Association of India (advertising agencies 20 per cent). The shareholders and TV broadcasters asserted that the current shareholding pattern of BARC does not need any alteration.

But they did suggest a few changes that BARC can undergo for a transparent and unbiased audience measurement system.

IBF recommended improvising of New Consumer Classification System (NCCS).

In its comment, the foundation said, “In a country the size of India with its geographic and cultural diversity and its urban-rural divide, segmenting audiences based on NCCS classification does not adequately capture the diversity in our audiences and their viewership preferences.”

“Ideally, a move towards RPD methodology would result in reduction in relative error and improve accuracy,” it further said.

ABP News Network is of the view that “BARC should be able to have a proper representation of India as a whole and should be able to report ‘What India Watches’”.

It should increase the sample size and should have representative urban-rural ratio as the Universe, the network said in its comment.

“Also, it had started with the premise of automating most process and reducing human contact, therefore it should be able to reduce the lag in data release. There should be better checks and balances for outlier deletion of data,” ABP stated further.

Times Network too is of the opinion that the sample size needs to get increased.

Times Network’s response to TRAI's Consultation Paper reads, “There cannot be a defined number/panel size that can be held to be adequately representing the entire TV viewing audience. However, attempts may be made to make additions to the current panel size every year. Firstly, BARC has to achieve the targeted 50,000 sample size. Thereafter, a yearly incremental number may be prescribed in discussion with BARC for increasing the sample size in relation to the growth of TV viewership in the country.”

Sony Pictures Networks, however, has something else to say regarding the sample size increase.

Their comment read, “The current sample based measurement needs to be reviewed. The present 33,000 household sample size, which will increase to 50,000 in the next couple of years. Increasing the sample size is unlikely to improve the quality of the measurement. Ideally, a move towards census-based methodology would result in reduction in relative error and improve accuracy in audience segmentation.”

New Broadcasters Association recommended a grievance redressal forum “where complaints/disputes relating to ratings can be dealt with in a fair and objective manner. In cases where channels are found to be guilty of any manipulation/tampering, BARC ratings for such channels should be suspended and necessary actions should be taken against such channels. Stringent penal action should be taken for any violations.”

BARC, meanwhile has promised to strengthen the measurement system.

“It has always been our endeavour to provide the industry with robust, representative and credible viewership data. BARC India has been evangelising initiatives such as Sample Return Path Data (SRPD) and penal provisions against Panel Tampering since over a year. We will be happy to see the regulator action these and will continue driving efforts towards strengthening the measurement system further with our strong technology backbone,” said Partho Dasgupta, CEO, BARC India.

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