When it comes to our “influential” media channels then their TRP is their god, life, and everything else. And, that’s one of the prime reasons behind today’s scenario of Indian media which is practically drowning.
Exactly a week after Mumbai Police announced it had busted a scam to manipulate TRP ratings and boost advertising revenues by Republic TV and two Marathi channels, the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) on Thursday paused its weekly rating for all the news channels for the next three months.
BARC said in s statement highlighting that the period would be used to bring the rating system to global standards; and discourage “unlawful inducement of its panel home viewers”. It said it would “review and augment the current standards of measuring; and reporting the data of niche genres to improve statistical robustness; and significantly hamper potential attempts t infiltrate panel homes.”
Five persons have been already arrested by the police; and they are alleged for being involved in a racket to bribe households with bar-o-meter; to keep the three channels switched on so as to fraudulently show higher viewership.
The News Broadcasters Association said the suspension period should “be utilised to implement important reforms at BARC.”
Rajat Sharma said, “The corrupted, compromised, irrationally fluctuating data is creating a false narrative on What India Watches.”
BARC”s exercise t review and rectify will extend to all English, Hindi, regional, and business news channels. It will, however, continue to release weekly audience estimates for news by state and language.
BARC mentioned that “Starting with the news genre, BARC will stop declaring individual channel ratings for news channels while this reworking of the rule sets is being done. This exercise will take around 8-12 weeks, including validation and testing under the supervision of the Tech Committee.”
“Recent revelations have brought disrepute to the measurement agency and by extension the broadcast news media. The corrupted, compromised, irrationally fluctuating data is creating a false narrative on What India Watches; and has been putting pressure on our members to take editorial calls that run counter to the journalistic values; and ideals of journalism,” said NBA’s Sharma.
A K Bhattacharya, secretary, Editors Guild of India said, “The earlier systems of calculating TRPs was imperfect and flawed; and needed to be overhauled a long time ago.”
He added further, “The TRAI targets of 1,00,000 meters; are also too modest in a TV home universe of 193 million. While increasing the meters to a substantially higher level; technology too should be harnessed. There is no reason why the viewership days available from 70 million DTH subscribers; cannot be used by the new rating systems…So, an ideal solution would be to use viewership trends available from DTH subscribers; and a higher number of meters installed in non-DTH homes.”