No govt intervention to correct TRP system: TRAI

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New Delhi, Aug 19: The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) recommended against any government intervention for correcting the deficiencies of the current system for measuring Television viewership, saying self-regulation by industry would be the best thing and the job could be done by any industry-led body.

TRAI has also strongly recommended that regulation of content should be transferred to itself. The telecom regulator, which had made its draft recoommendation on TRP amd TAM public on July 24, asking for comments from stakehoders, on Tuesday, Aug 19 came out with its final recommendations. It said a framework laying specific guidelines including certain reporting requirements would effectively address the shortcomings of the current method of obtaining Television Audience Measurement (TAM)/ Television Rating Points (TRPs).

It recommeded that industry initiative Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) could be recognized as the institutional framework.

Once BARC started functioning, the inadequacies of the present system would have to be effectively addressed in a close and coordinated manner with the Ministry of Information&Broadcasting.

''The Authority is of the view that any form of Governmental intervention in the form of an enactment is not desirable at this stage.'' it said.

TRAI said BARC, which should have two nominees of the Ministry of Information&Broadcasting on its Board of Directors, could initiate its activity regarding TAM/TRP by january next.

There should be a technical Committee within BARC to guide and supervise the various processes of Ratings and to include nominees from the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER) and Indian Statistical Institute (ISI), Kolkata.

BARC is not to undertake audience measurement directly, and to resort to an open, transparent bidding process for the various stages involved in the rating process. The council will provide such information and reports as may be asked for by the Ministry from time to time, said the Telecom Regulator. According to TRAI recommendations, the addresses and location of homes where meter are installed would be kept totally confidential.

The Request for Proposal inviting bids from the rating agencies is to be finalized by BARC after duly considering the eligibility conditions and performance obligations as provided by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting from time to time.

The Council's Technical Committee would decide the sample size.

The sample should cover different platforms, including terrestrial / Prasar Bharati channels, cable and satellite platforms, rural and urban areas, and all the states.

No single company/ legal person, either directly or through its associates would have substantial equity (more than 10 per cent) holding in more than one Rating agency, said TRAI.

Television industry in India has been estimated Rs 22,600 Crore as its annual revenues (2007). Of this 35 per cent, approximately Rs 8000 crore comes from Television advertising.

TRAI said Television ratings, primarily meant to guide broadcasters, media agencies and advertisers to determine their programme scheduling, ad spend and the placement of the advertisement, have often also influenced the content as well as pricing of channels.

With increased convergence and the blurring of boundaries between carriage and content, and the significant influence exercised by content on the society, the Authority strongly recommends that regulation of content should also be transferred to TRAI.

It has also recommended a Complaints Redressal Mechanism with BARC. The Telecom Regulator said BARC would sign an MoU with the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting for its organizational structure, functions and methodology (including eligibility conditions for selection of rating agencies.

Besides, it would display the rate card for the various reports and discounts offered thereon on its website.

A promoter company/ Legal person/ Directors of rating agency cannot have stakes in Broadcaster, Advertiser and Advertising agency either directly or through its associates. Similarly, a Broadcaster, Advertiser or Advertising agency shall also not have any stake in rating agencies.

TRAI has recommended comprehensive mandatory audit of the rating system carried out by independent qualified auditing firms having experience of TV ratings audit, conducted at least once in three years.

Besides, it wants competition in rating services, and selection of at least two bidders for each stage of the activity in the rating process.

Selection of bidders shall be conducted through an open, transparent bidding for the various stages involved in the rating process.

TRAI said BARC and the rating agencies should invest in programs to educate the general public about the work of audience measurement at regular intervals in various parts of the country and through detailed information available on their websites.

TRAI said the aim of its recomendation was to achieve continuous improvement in quality and method of the rating system, to provide accurate, up to date and relevant data, and to discourage unfair or deceptive practices employed in connection with the sale or use of ratings.

Presently, two private agencies namely TAM Media Research and Audience Measurement and Analytics Ltd. (aMap) are carrying out TV ratings on a commercial basis.

Their operations are limited to a few large cities with a population above one lakh. Within big cities too, their sample size is limited to a total of about 7000 (TAM) and 6000 (aMAP) metered homes.

All states except JK, N E, Bihar and Jharkhand are covered by TAM Media Research, while aMap sample covers all states except JK and N E but includes Jammu and Guwahati.

UNI

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