BARC to invest Rs 1 bn in setting up TV ratings system

The Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) will invest Rs 1 billion to set up an independent TV ratings measurement system.

Broadcasters will put in Rs 850 million, ad agencies Rs 100 million and the advertisers Rs 50 million.

“We will be spending Rs 1 billion for setting up the system. The attempt is to make a system that is fair, transparent and applicable for all stakeholders,” said BARC president Pradeep Guha who is also the CEO of Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd.

The current system is dissatisfactory and the sample size and spread is inadequate, added Guha while participating in an open house on the TRP (television rating points) system organised by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai).

Speaking for the Advertising Agencies Association of India (AAAI), Madison founder-promoter Sam Balsara said with the growth of the industry, there is need to develop a better ratings system.

Responding to a query from Trai principal advisor RN Choubey on accuracy, Balsara said BARC has an elaborate technical committee that is geared to generate accurate data state-wise and region-wise.

Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF) president and Dish TV managing director Jawahar Goel said the need for a better system is underscored by the fact that TRP is driving content and also that the size of the market has grown massively over the past few years.

Meanwhile, Trai chairperson Nripendra Misra clarified that by issuing a consultation paper on TRP, it shouldn’t be construed that it was trying to regulate the market.

“There is no attempt to regulate the sector, but the attempt is to assess, first of all, how transparent the present rating system is – whether it is addressable and whether it is doing justice to such a mammoth country with all its diversities,” Misra emphasised.

The work of Trai also entails checking out whether all stakeholders are satisfied with the present system and whether there is scope for upgradation to make it more sensitive and closer to reality, leaving little or no scope for manipulation.

“We are wanting to work with you and see if the standard can be brought up to international levels,” he said.

Consumer organisation VOICE said that the system is biased in favour of broadcasters and it is a serious error to suggest that rating is merely a matter between broadcasters and advertisers.

“The system must conform to a regulatory oversight and must address all upcoming platforms, including DTH and IPTV,” Prof SR Khanna of VOICE said, adding that let alone addressability, consumer groups do not get to see the ratings as they are too costly to procure.Responding to some of the issues, Tam CEO LV Krishnan said that the criticism about the rating agency not going to regions like Bihar and Assam is not correct as the organisation did try to, but did not receive support even from the governments there.

On Trai’s status in the TRP issue, most speakers sat on the side of the regulator. Arvind Mohan of Zee Network cited international case studies to suggest that Trai must have regulatory oversight powers.

“If you see the regulation of 9 January 2004, it gives Trai clear powers to deal with carriage issues. Trai should play a guidance role, without intervention or regulating the industry,” said Mohan.

Competition of another ratings system parallel to Tam would also be healthy for the industry, Mohan said.

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