Increase sample size to calculate TRPs, says govt panel

New Delhi: Taking a serious view of the "small sample size" used in the current system of measuring popularity of TV programmes, a committee set up by the information and broadcasting ministry has suggested an increase from 8,000 to 30,000 `people meter homes` and an expansion of the board of Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC).

The committee, formed by the ministry in May last year to examine issues relating to Television Rating Points (TRPs), said BARC should initiate changes in its board and appoint a high powered committee to guide it in the area of research, design and analysis by June 2011.

BARC is an industry-led initiative of broadcasters, advertisers and advertising agencies.

People meter homes refer to the meters in homes installed by TRP rating companies to gauge which channel is being watched and for how long.

The committee report was submitted by its chairperson Amit Mitra, secretary general of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), along with other members to Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni here Monday.

Suggesting that self-regulation of TRPs was the best way to move forward, the committee said if BARC failed to appoint a high powered committee by June this year it may invoke government action through appropriate legislation. This could include taking over the regulation of TRP measurement either by asking Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) to step in or by creating other mechanisms.

Pointing out that "rural areas have been left out of from the current system of TRP measurement", the committee has recommended increase in sample size from 8,000 people meter homes to 15,000 urban and rural households in two years and to 30,000 over the next three years for complete geographical coverage of the country.

It has also suggested that BARC should make efforts to reduce manufacturing cost of people meters.

It said the company structure of BARC should have representation from broadcasters, including public sector broadcasters, advertisers and advertising agencies and recommended that there should be a 12-member board.

The committee also expressed concern over "lack of transparency in methodology of conducting TRP measurement". It recommended that the selection process of the rating agency and the TRP measurement process should be carried out in a "credible, transparent and statistically robust manner which should be subjected to financial and process audit".

It said there should also not be any cross-holding between the rating agencies and the broadcasters, advertisers and the advertising agencies to avoid conflict of interest.

Soni said the report provided a roadmap to the ministry to review the TRP system in the country and the ministry would review the recommendations in the light of the mandate given to the committee.

The committee was formed by the ministry to examine several crucial issues concerning TRPs in India after BARC was not operationalised by the industry in the timeframe suggested by TRAI.

An official spokesperson said the system of TRPs had come under close scrutiny following reports of several lacunae.

The committee was mainly asked to examine the present system of generation of TRPs and its adverse and negative impact on the content of television programmes due to competition for higher TRPs.


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