On eve of BARC’s 5th birthday (of ops), TRAI issues recommendations on TV audience measurement

28 Apr,2020

By A Correspondent


On April 29 (that’s tomorrow), television audience measurement body BARC India (short for Broadcast Audience Research Council) celebrates its fifth anniversary of operations. And before we could sing Happy Birthday and bring out the bubbly, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has issued recommendations on the way television audience measurement should happen in India in the form of   “Review of Television Audience Measurement and Rating System in India”.


Notes a press release: “Several concerns relating to neutrality and reliability of the existing rating system have been raised  by  stakeholders,  which  necessitated  a  need to review of existing Television Audience Measurement arid Rating system in India. A consultation paper was issued in December 2018 seeking comments from all stakeholders.


After considering all comments received from stakeholders during consultation process and further analysis of the issues, the Authority has finalised its  recommendations.  The  salient  features  of  the recommendations are given below:

1. Structural reforms are required in the Governance structure of BARC to mitigate the potential risk of conflict of interest, improve credibility, and bring transparency, and  instill confidence of all stakeholders in the TRP measurement system

2. The composition of the Board of BARC India should be changed as part of the proposed structural reforms.

3. The Board should have at least fifty percent  independent members which should include one member as a measurement technology expert, one statistician of national  repute  from among the top institution s) of the country and two representatives from the Governments Regulator.

4. Restructured Board of BARC India should provide for equal representation of the three constituent lndustry Associations, namely, AAAI, ISA and IBF and with equal voting rights irrespective of their proportion of equity holding

5. Tenure of the members of the board shall be for two years.

6. Active participation of representatives of the Advertisers and the advertising agency will bring more accuracy, transparency, credibility, arid neutrality in  the  system,  due  to  their  inherent need of advertisers to reach viewers accurately.

7. The constituent industry associations shall be entitled to nominate their representatives to the board membershlp subject to the condition  that  a  cooling  period  of  4  years  shall  be applicable between two consecutive tenures, for any such nominee member.

8. Tenure of the Chairman of the Board should not be more than two years. Chairmanship of the Board shall  be  rotated  among the constituent industry associations in every two years.

9. Number of members in the technical committee should be increased to 5 with addition of two external technical experts

10. An Oversight Committee should be formed to guide BARC India in the areas of research, design and analysis,  constantly  improving the rating system

11. The Oversight Committee should have representation from the National Council of Applied Economic Research, IIM, IIT, media research expert and demography  expert,  nominee  from  the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, and TRAI.

12. The   Committee   should   also   be    responsible    for nomination/ appointment of independent members  of  the Board as well as to give policy direction to BARC India, if it is so required.

13. To create credible and accurate collection of data, multiple data collection agencies need to be encouraged.

14. Competition and multiple agencies for data collection and processing would bring in new technologies, new research methodologies, new methods in  analysis,  new and  better  ways to ensure better data quality.

15. BARC should be at an arm’s length from its own subsidiary, Meterology Data Pvt Ltd., which is the sole data collecting  agency for BARC, as of now; so that the entire process of measurement is carried out independently to ensure inherent checks in data inconsistency.

16. Efforts may be made to withhold the  identity  of  the  channel’s name and number while collecting and  processing  the data from the field, to bring more transparency in the complete process.

17. BARC should also separate its functions in two units (a) one unit should be responsible for prescribing methodology  of ratings/ validation of data, publishing the data and audit mechanism and (b) the other unit for processing the data, watermarkirig or any other such technical work including management of data collection agencies.

18. Once multiple agencies come forward for rating, BARC should limit its role to publishing the ratings, and framing methodology and audit mechanism for the rating  agencies,  so  that  the number of agencies can develop multiple rating system  leveraging new technologies.

19. The  rating  agency  should  be  mandated  to  increase  the  sample size from the existing 44,000 to 60,000 by the end of 2020, and 100,000 by the end of 2022 using the existing technology.

20. BARC shall immediately  conduct a study in collaboration  with   the Indian Statistical Institute or  any  other institute  of  repute,  to estimate the appropriate sample size, and to get the correct representation of the viewership including regional and niche channels. Sample size once increased; i1 will make the data tampering an arduous exercise. On the basis of the study conducted, BARC should reach the target of  reaching  the  sample size in a time-bound manner.

21. There  should  be  some  financial  disincentives  prescribed   as penal provisions including the cancellation of registration, if the specified target is not met by BARC .

22. MIB should amend the DTH License and MSO registration so as to mandate STBs capable of transferring viewership data and adoption of RPD technology.  This transfer  of data can be done by establishing a return path / connection from MTB to the remote servers of the Audience Measurement agency

23. Anonymised viewership data should be transferred electronically to the Audience Measurement agency for statistical analysis and Television Rating purpose. No data from any STB should be transferred to Rating agency without explicit consent from the subscribers

24. DPOs should be allowed to mutually negotiate the terms and conditions for sharing the data with Measurement Rating  agency within the overall framework prescribed by TRAI from time to time. Such framework shall be prescribed by TRAI once these recommendations are accepted by MIB.

25. BARC should keep all relevant data such as original data (meter-level data) arising out of the household panel, the data de1eted/ ignored/ not considered for ratings and the resultant processed data for TRP rating at least for one year in the same format and pattern as in the final ratings, declared to the subscribers including Broadcasters, advertising agencies, and advertisers.

26. BARC should review / frame its outlier policy based on scientific study and market survey conducted from time to  time.  BARC should automate data processing in such  a  manner  that  no  manual intervention is required before the final TRP rating is released. Any type of manual intervention in the meter level / raw data arising out of household panel  must  be  avoided. Manual intervention,  if  any,  in  abnormal  circumstances  should be reported and informed to the auditors also.

27. Adequate framework for grievance  redressal  may  be  made  having nodal officers and Appellate body.

28. BARC should get annual audit conducted  by  an  independent agency to ensure conformance with TRP rating methodology-, Sample size, and grievance redressal methodology and  publish audit report on their website after board approval within three months after end of the financial year.

29. The full text of recommendations is available on TRAI’s website (www.traigov.in)

Meanwhile, when asked for a statement, a BARC India spokesperson said: BARC India spokesperson. “The TRAI recommendations have only just been received. BARC India is reviewing the same in consultation with its Board and stakeholders.. All Stakeholders from the Industry and the Government and related bodies are aware of the scientific, statistical and technical robustness of the data collated and released by BARC. BARC truly represents all facets of the Industry comprising Advertisers, Agencies and Broadcasters regardless of size, as the Currency of What India Watches. We do not wish to comment at this very early stage.”


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