With Mumbai Police registering a case on the TRP Scam on Thursday, the most well-kept secret of Indian TV channels in manipulating the viewership data is now out in the public domain added with the mudslinging of TV Channels and anchors each other. What comes out in the controversial Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh’s press conference indicting Arnab Goswami’s Republic TV Channel is only the tip of the iceberg in the Indian TV Channel industry amounting to Rs.70,000 crores advertisement spending annually. The last heard is the Mumbai Police FIR also mentions the role of India Today Group also in manipulating the viewership data.
In April 2018, PGurus have detailed this TRP (Television Rating Points) scam and the role of a private agency called BARC (Broadcast Audience Research Council) in fudging the data in two reports. The first report explained how Star TV India controlled BARC was allowed by the Government to run this rating business by violating guidelines of the Information and Broadcasting Ministry and Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI). This report exposed how certain media houses controlled BARC and were fooling India’s advertisers and viewership data fudging. The second report explained how foreign companies indirectly control BARC and violating several norms of the I&B Ministry and TRAI.
DISH TV companies like Tata Sky and Airtel can take data of viewership directly from their central control room. The government must authorize these companies to collect data through legislation and must stop the fake purple meter connecting to a few TV sets.
What is TRP Scam?
Now Mumbai Police has registered a case in the lower level of manipulation in the TV ratings. In India, around 40,000 meters known as purple meter are attached to TV sets. These give data on viewership patterns and behaviour. How can a mere 40,000-meter-based-data profile a country like India? According to BARC, another agency Hansa Research Group is handling and collecting data from these 40,000 homes across the country. As per Mumbai Police, a former staffer of Hansa revealed how bribes are given by TV channels to fudge the data collected from homes.
The Modus Operandi is like this. The homes where meters are installed are supposed to be secret. But bribes were given to staffers to identify the homes where meters are installed. So TV channels as well as private serial programme producers approach these homes and bribe them to switch on the channels or programmes. It is a known secret that these homes will be given another TV set by these bribe givers to watch programmes as they wish with a condition that they have to always switch on the TV and technically view the bribed channels or programmes where the meter is attached. So in effect, these homes get another TV free also apart from the monthly bribes to switch on the meter attached TV set. Apart from shopping coupons, between Rs.5,000 – 10,000 is given to these homes to help manipulate the viewership data.
Above mentioned is only a grass root level fraud. So, think of the big manipulation in viewership data at the main agency level.
How to stop this fraud
DISH TV companies like Tata Sky and Airtel can take data of viewership directly from their central control room. The government must authorize these companies to collect data through legislation and must stop the fake purple meter connecting to a few TV sets. I and B Ministry and TRAI must sit together to evolve a new scientific system.
 TRP Scam: Data fudging or leakages by totally foreign companies-controlled TRP rating agency BARC? Apr 22, 2018, PGurus.com
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