Shortcomings of present TV rating guidelines being analysed: Prakash Javadekar
The minister also said that the news reports published since October 2020 expressed some concerns relating to Television Rating Points
With the functioning of BARC India coming under scrutiny in light of the TV rating scam unearthed by the Mumbai Police, the ministry of information and broadcasting (MIB) is analysing the present TV rating guidelines for any shortcomings.
It is pertinent to note that the four-member committee formed by the MIB to review guidelines on Television Rating Agencies in India has submitted its recommendation. The committee was formed in the backdrop of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s (TRAI) recommendations on the review of TV audience measurement and rating system.
The four-member committee comprised Prasar Bharati CEO Shashi Vempati, IIT Kanpur Professor of Statistics, Department of Mathematics and Statistics Dr Shalabh, C-DOT Executive Director Dr Rajkumar Upadhyay, and Professor Pulak Ghosh of Centre for Public Policy (CPP).
"The existing guidelines have provisions like methodology for audience measurement, panel selection, viewing platform secrecy and privacy, data analysis, transparency, and complaint redressal mechanism, etc. which are essential for a robust, transparent and accountable rating system in India," I&B minister Prakash Javadekar said in the Lok Sabha.
"Notwithstanding, based on the Report of the Committee headed by CEO, Prasar Bharati along with recommendations of TRAI, the present guidelines are being analysed/evaluated vis-à-vis shortcomings, if any. Any modifications may involve a thorough and elaborate review of the paradigm."
As many as 24 Lok Sabha MPs including former I&B minister Manish Tewari asked questions related to the controversy around audience viewership measurement. The minister also said that the news reports published since October 2020 expressed some concerns relating to Television Rating Points.
He also pointed out that the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) had responded stating that apart from the Disciplinary Council’s action to maintain panel sanctity, it has actively pursued action against those involved in tampering with the samples and has filed 11 FIRs through its vendor across many states.
Javadekar quoted BARC as saying that in its commitment to produce robust and credible data of TV viewership in India its system was able to detect anomalous viewership behaviour and the cases filed are also due to the strong data security and vigilance system that BARC has set up.
In response to a question whether the Government has received any complaints about the manipulation of TRP from 2015 onwards and if so, the details thereof and action taken thereon, Javadekar said that the database on complaints is not centrally maintained. However, the issues pertaining to BARC are normally forwarded to BARC for appropriate action.
"In addition to the filing of FIRs, with a view to preventing instances of panel tempering and manipulation of the audience measurement system, BARC regularly undertakes structural, regulatory and procedural changes as necessary to ensure that the viewership data so captured by BARC and its consequent reporting is as accurate and transparent as possible. Besides, a dedicated complaint redressal mechanism of the rating agency is also provided for in the “Guidelines for Television Rating Agencies in India” notified by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting on 16th January 2014," the minister stated.
He also mentioned about the committee formed by the ministry to guidelines on Television Rating Agencies in India.
"Further, in order to address the issues in the light of fresh recommendations of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) and the technological advancements/interventions to address the system, a Committee was constituted under the Chairmanship of Chief Executive Officer, Prasar Bharati with independent members from IIT, C-DOT and IIM. The Committee was tasked, inter alia, to study any issues related or incidental to the subject and make recommendations on a way forward for a robust, transparent, and accountable rating system in India," Javadekar said.
"The above-said committee under the Chairmanship of Chief Executive Officer, Prasar Bharati has been constituted to review the guidelines for Television Rating Agencies including Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) in India and to make recommendations on way forward for a robust, transparent and accountable rating system in India. The Committee has made recommendations on measurement methodology, the structural changes in the composition of the rating agencies and audits, etc. The recommendations of the Committee address various issues referred to them including TRAI recommendations."
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