BARC ratings for news channels to resume soon
- Ratings by Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) for the news channels will resume, after the organisation revised its procedures and protocols.
- The ratings were suspended after the Mumbai police busted a racket involving a private channel’s efforts to tamper the ratings.
- The decision was taken acting on the spirit of ‘TRP Committee Report’ and Telecom Regulatory Authority of India's (TRAI’s) recommendation of greater transparency in Television Rating Points (TRP).
The imperative role of TRP Committee
- The ‘TRP Committee’ under the chairmanship of Prasar Bharati CEO Shashi Shekhar Vempati was created to look into the technological advancements and interventions to strengthen the procedures for a credible and transparent rating system.
- Further, the committee studied different facets of the television rating system in India as they have evolved over a period of time and carried out an appraisal of the existing system, examined TRAI recommendations, and overall industry scenario.
- The committee also addressed the needs of the stakeholders and made recommendations for a robust and transparent TRP system.
TRP committee's detailed report
- After several rounds of deliberations and discussions with key stakeholders, the TRP committee submitted its detailed report in January 2021.
- The crux of the report for an effective rating system was aligned with nurturing a value system.
- The report stated, “Sophistication of algorithms, scale, and diversity of panels are no substitute for the shared values and ethics that must govern any such system”.
- Further, the committee recommended, “Return Path Data (RPD) be made a mandatory capability of all future Set Top Box”.
- The committee stated the integration of existing RPD into the current rating mechanism data within 6 months and recommended the mandatory universalization of collection of viewership information by using the ‘Return Path Data’ (RPD) technology.
- For greater transparency in the TRP system, the committee also encouraged healthy competition in the rating space by carrying out a one-time audit of BARC India’s subsidiary MDPL and removing invisible barriers.
- The committee also emphasized on the need to shift towards an open data ecosystem approach where herein both algorithms and historical datasets be available and open to academics and independent researchers to analyse, validate and enrich.
- Key recommendations to strengthen corporate governance at BARC, bolstering technical oversight, promoting business innovations, new business models etc were also made.
Creation of Joint Working Group
- To harness Return Path Data (RPD) capabilities in measuring TRPs, the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting has also set up a ‘Joint Working Group', under the chairmanship of Prasar Bharati CEO Shashi Shekhar Vempati.
- RPD (Return Path Data) is the audience television viewing data, under which viewership can also be gauged from set-top boxes.
- The Joint Working Group will include representatives from the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, Bureau of Indian Standards, BARC, DTH Association and All India Digital Cable Federation, and the group will submit its report in four months.
- Notably, the Joint Working Group will examine the audience measurement, international practices, security of the viewership data, and will have to come up with:
- Minimum standards for RPD (Return Path Data) capable set-top boxes
- Protocols for certifications and auditing
- Common standards to the existing rating methodology to integrate with RPD.