I&B Ministry tells BARC to release TV ratings for news channels
After 15 months of rigging controversy, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MI&B) on Wednesday asked Indian broadcasters’ body BARC to release news ratings with immediate effect after the council said it has taken initiatives to revise its protocols and mechanisms. This comes after over a year of suspension of television news ratings following the controversy surrounding the alleged TRP (television rating points) scam which came to the fore in October 2020.
TRP rigging by TV channels came to light after then Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh declared that Arnab Goswami lead Republic TV and some other channels were in connivance with BARC (Broadcasters Audience and Research Council) hyped their ratings. Then BARC CEO Partho Dasgupta was arrested in the case and Mumbai Police investigation revealed a conversation with Arnab and Partho (both were good friends and colleagues in Times Group earlier) in manipulating the ratings of channels and certain programs.
In April 2018, PGurus published a series on frauds and fudging in the TRP ratings by BARC. The series detailed how the annual TV advertising flow of Rs.70,000 crore annually was handled by certain cartels in the sector.
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. According to the revised system, the reporting of News and niche genres shall be on a ‘four-week rolling average concept’, the Ministry said in a statement.
The Ministry has also set up a ‘working group’ under the chairmanship of Prasar Bharti CEO for consideration of leveraging the Return Path Data (RPD) capabilities for the use of TRP services, as also recommended by TRAI and the TRP Committee Report. The committee shall submit its report in four months’ time, the Ministry said.
“The reconstitution of the Board and the Technical Committee to allow for the induction of independent members have also been initiated by BARC. A permanent Oversight Committee has also been formed. The access protocols for data have been revamped and tightened,” said MIB. BARC has indicated that in view of the changes undertaken by it, they are reaching out to related constituencies to explain the new proposals and are in readiness to actually commence the release according to the new protocols.
In an official order, the Ministry said the Joint Working Group will study different aspects of the data capturing including RPD in the context of the audience measurement, international practices, security of the viewership data, etc. “The Group may study successful global best practices in RPD, like that of Canada, the models/ pilots undertaken in India by BARC and other independent experiments by DTH operators and other relevant stakeholders and formulate a mandate for combining the data sources including RPD if so decided with the existing sampling methodology(ies),” said Ministry.
The Joint Working Group shall have Prasar Bharati CEO S S Vempati as the chairperson, and five members – one each from Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, Bureau of Indian Standards, BARC, All India Digital Cable Federation, and Harit Nagpal, president of the DTH Association.
The group will specify minimum standards for RPD capable STBS, SOPs for certification, and audit of the same. It will specify common protocols, data standards, and modifications to the current rating methodology so that data from RPD capable STBS could be integrated into the current TV rating system.
“The secretariat for the Joint Working Group shall be provided by Prasar Bharati. The Group may also invite any domain expert(s), and stakeholders representatives for its deliberations, if required. The Group shall submit its report to the Ministry of information and Broadcasting within four months of the date of issue of this order,” the Ministry said.
 TRP scam: Mumbai CP Param Bir Singh announces investigation – Oct 09, 2020, Mumbai Mirror
 TRP Scam: Data fudging or leakages by totally foreign companies-controlled TRP rating agency BARC? – Apr 22, 2018, PGurus.com
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