NEW DELHI: The ministry of information and broadcasting on Wednesday asked the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC), responsible for measuring TV viewership in India, to immediately release Television Rating Points (TRP) for news channels.
The ministry order also said that TRP data, henceforth, will be computed on a four-week rolling average.
Additionally, it set up a joint working group with stakeholders from the industry and government on board and asked them to come up with specifications and protocols to leverage Return Path Data from set-top boxes while addressing privacy concerns that arise as a result.
Effectively, the order sets the ball rolling for the release of TRP data for news channels after a 15-month hiatus since October 2020, when BARC stopped publishing the data on the back of a ‘TRP Scam’ unearthed by Mumbai police, and which pointed to the “fraudulent” manipulation of TRPs by three channels — Republic TV, Fakt Marathi and Box Cinema.
The government had then set up a four-member committee headed by Prasar Bharati chief executive Shashi Shekhar Vempati to review the ‘Guidelines on Television Rating Agencies in India’ and which recommended in its report that it should be made mandatory to universalise collection of viewership information by using the ‘Return Path Data’ (RPD) technology.
In Wednesday’s order, the I&B ministry said in light of recommendations of the report submitted by the TRP Committee and Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, BARC has “undertaken revision in its processes, protocols, oversight mechanism and initiated changes in governance structure etc.”
The order added that since BARC has reconstituted the “Board and the Technical Committee to allow for the induction of independent members”, a permanent
Oversight Committee has been formed, and access protocols for data have been revamped and tightened, BARC is reaching out to related constituencies to explain new proposals and is ready to commence release of ratings as per the new protocols.
As a result, the ministry asked BARC to release the news ratings “with immediate effect and also to release the last three months data, for the genre in a monthly format, for fair and equitable representation of true trends”.
Under the new system, the reporting of news and niche genres, which have a smaller sample size making them prone to rigging, will be on a “four-week rolling average concept”, the ministry said.The Vempati-led joint working group will now consider if RPD capabilities can be used for measuring TRPs and will submit its report in four months.
“The Group may study successful global best practices in RPD, like that of Canada, the models/ pilots undertaken in lndia by BARC and other independent experiments by DTH operators and other stakeholders and formulate a mandate for combining data sources including RPD, if so decided with the existing sampling methodology(ies),” the ministry’s order said.