GS 3 – Science and Technology Communication networks, role of media and social networking sites in internal security challenges
Television Rating Points(TRP) represent how many people, from which socio-economic categories, watched which channels for how much time during a particular period.
TRPs are the main currency for advertisers to decide which channel to advertise on by calculating the cost-per-rating-point (CPRP).
In the case, where three channels Republic TV, Fakht Marathi and Box Cinema, have been named in the case of Television Rating Points (TRP) manipulation
Days after Mumbai Police investigations, Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) has announced the suspension of audience estimates and ratings for news channels for the next three months.
- In 2000s, there were two rating agencies Television Audience Measurement (TAM) and INTAM in India providing data for TRPs.
- There were major mismatch and disputes in the data provided by both agencies.
- As a result, despite having 35 out of the top 50 programmes in all TV homes
- none of the Door darshan channels was present in the top 50 slots in the C&S (Cable & Satellite) homes category, as per the data of TAM.
- In another such controversy, a news channel with just 4% prime time news was declared as number 1 by TAM instead of DD National with 92% share in prime-time news.
- Data was collected on the basis of 2,000 “BAR-O-meters” installed one each in a house, on the back cover of the TVs.
- The controversy was raised in the parliament in 2008. Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) asked the Telecom Regulatory Authority (TRAI) to frame policy guidelines for rating agencies.
- TRAI recommended for self-regulation through an industry-led body, the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC).
- In 2014, MIB notified Policy Guidelines for Television Rating Agencies
- In 2015 BARC was accredited to television ratings in India. In 2016, TAM exited TV viewership measurement.
- Not BARC is the sole TV rating service provider.
- BARC provides a rating based on the installed “BAR-O-meters” in over 45,000 empanelled households.
- Based on the education level of the main wage earner and the ownership of consumer durables, households are classified into 12 categories.
- Every person in the household has a separate ID
- each member registers their presence by pressing their viewer ID button.
- It provides data on the channel watched by a person and watch the duration of it.
- Now, if a broadcaster has the information of the houses where “BAR-O-meters” are installed,
- It would be easy to manipulate this data by bribing them or the cable operator of the multiple households for keeping their channel switched on.
Why it matters?
- Financial fraud: Distribution of Ads worth Rs. 27000 crores received by News industry is decided based on TRP.
- Spreading hate narrative: Programs spreading hate have been shown getting high TRP
- affects public perception and promoted by channels
- whereas a program spreading harmony and receiving low TRP
- will be demoted by channels.
- system works against the national interest of any country.
- Investment: Channels receiving high TRP, even though it is rigged, have a high probability of receiving investment.
- Right to know: A bigger crime of fraud on the people’s right to know the truth
- which the media is morally and legally bound to provide, instead of fake news and manufactured hate narratives.
- The absence of any specific law through which the agents/ suspects involved in panel tampering/infiltration could be penalised.
- 45000 households representing a population of billion + country is not sufficient.
- Rating mindset:
- Rating system in India as a whole is not transparent.
- There is no clear information on the ratings provided to even books, music and movies.
- Ad revenues are driving the news channels.
- Ads are being offered to the news channels having viewership from the audience having high purchasing power.
- Which is why English news channels are getting ads more.
- No information
- about people meter
- the methodology of calculations
- sampling quality
- demography of the selected sample size.
- People meters are installed in the houses of poor,
- who can easily be lured by gifts or money.
- Media, in its original form, plays a role of
- adversary to the government
- highlighting the social
- economical or geographical issues
- present challenges to the government.
- Government regulations mean surrendering freedom of expression and danger of political exploitation of media.
- TRAI is already doing the job of regulations,creating one more such agency would create confusion only.
- Multiple agencies: Creation of multiple agencies mean multiple data.
- Any mismatch in data will invite scrutiny
- Thus, data comparison will keep a check on every agency.
- Use of DTH services to analyse: Direct to Home (DTH) television services
- are being by huge population in India
- DTH can be tweaked to provide information on which channel is being actually watched
- Privacy issues due to that can be tackled through encryption.
- Use of new methodologies: Changing technology must be utilised.
- For Eg, after New tariff Order (NTO) by TRAI, users have an option to select channels
- this method can easily provide info on which channel is getting subscribed most by the public.
- Corporate led check: Example of some corporates boycotting few media channels from their ads due to spread of hate is a great example that might be most effective in containing it.
- Corporate led technology: Corporates providing ads to news channels are very much capable of finding a technological solution.
Even as the mad rush to copy programmes with high trps continues, many broadcasters, advertisers and advertising agents are blaming the manner in which the ratings are carried out for the fall in the quality of programmes.
The government has sought recommendations fromTRAI, which also acts as an advisory body on broadcasting regulations. trai is consulting the tv and advertising industry on how they want trps to be measured.