Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh said on Thursday that police were investigating an alleged scam involving tampering with TV Rating Points (TRPs) using tampering devices used by the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC). India, which has a mandate to measure television audiences in the country. However, this is not the first time that the veracity and credibility of the TRPs have been questioned. The problem predates the creation of BARC.
So what exactly is TRP?
- In simpler terms, TRPs represent how many people, from which socioeconomic categories, watched which channels for how long during a given period.
- The period can be an hour, a day, or even a week. The data is generally released weekly and represents the most viewed TV shows and channels during that particular time period.
- In a consultation paper on TV audience measurement and classification in India, the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) defined it and its importance as follows:
- Based on audience measurement data, ratings are assigned to various television shows. Television ratings, in turn, influence the programs produced for viewers.
- Higher ratings would favor a program, while lower ratings would discourage a program. Incorrect ratings will lead to the production of shows that may not be really popular, while good shows may be left out.
- According to a FICCI-EY report on the media and entertainment industry over the past year, the size of the Indian TV industry was 78.7 billion rupees last year, and TRPs are Currency. where advertisers can decide which channel to advertise on.
What is BARC?
The Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC), an industry body jointly owned by advertisers, advertising agencies and broadcasting companies, represented respectively by the Indian Society of Advertisers, the Indian Broadcasting Foundation and the Association of Advertising Agencies of India, measures television audiences in the country, using television rating points or TRP.
How are they calculated?
- BARC has installed “BAR-O-meters” in more than 45,000 panel homes across the country. These households are classified into 12 categories under the New Consumer Classification System (NCCS), the so-called ‘new SEC' that was adopted by BARC in 2015, based on the level of education of the main income and possession of durable consumer goods from a predefined list of 11 items ranging from an electrical connection to a car.
- While watching a show, household members register their presence by pressing the Viewer ID button, thus capturing how long the channel has been watched and by whom, and providing data on viewing habits accordingly. age and socioeconomic groups.
- This data is one of the most important considerations for advertisers and agencies when choosing a channel in which to advertise their products.
- It is important to note that, like any good statistical survey, the panel used to enter the TRPs must be representative of the country's population and the methodology must be economically viable for the industry.
How can TRP data be manipulated?
- The simplest answer to this is that if broadcasters can find the homes where the audience measurement devices are installed, they can directly lure them into viewing their channels through gifts or bribes or they can ask the broadcasting operators or multi-system operators to make sure their channels are available as a “home page” when the TV is on, which can increase your audience.
- For TRPs, it doesn't matter what the whole country is watching, but basically what the 45,000 households saw, which is supposed to represent the country's television audience. Broadcasters can visit these households to edit the actual audience data.
What kinds of allegations have there been in the past about TRP data?
- For nearly a decade, industry players have been asking themselves questions. Two years ago, the Union's Ministry of Information and Broadcasting expressed concern that BARC was not reporting on the Doordarshan audience and pitched the idea of dailies. activity based on chips in all set-top boxes. The idea was ultimately rejected.
- In a letter to the President of BARC in July, President of the Association of News Broadcasters Rajat Sharma, owner of the Indian news broadcaster, complained about the hearing of TV9 Bharatvarsh, a news channel, and had mentioned that “several news channels wrote to BARC to draw their attention to the fact that the ratings for each week do not correlate with television basics” and “the manipulated data is published week after week without taking no corrective action “Sharma had said that” these are corrupt practices, which are done in total collusion with BARC and the station “.
- In 2012, NDTV filed a lawsuit against TAM, a predecessor of BARC, demanding $ 700 million in compensation, after growing tired of TRP's data glitches.