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BARC 2.0: TRAI sets ball rolling to further strengthen viewership measurement

The regulator floats consultation paper after meeting industry stakeholders who were of the view that though there could be improvements in the sample size and measures to curb panel tampering, there is no need for any other measurement system

A little more than three years old, Indian television audience measurement system BARC is all set to become more robust with the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) stepping in with a Consultation Paper after meeting the industry stakeholders.

TRAI had called a meeting on October 22, which had representation from broadcasters (news and non-news), advertisers, agencies as well as BARC India.

The meeting was called for TRAI to understand if the current measurement system is good enough and if there is a need for another system. To this, broadcasters attending the meeting said that while there could be improvements in the sample size and measures to curb panel tampering, there is no need for any other measurement system.

Stakeholders also told TRAI that since the industry had invested in a robust technology while setting up BARC, they should invest more in the current system itself to ensure that it could be improved.

I Venkat

Pointing out that another measurement company will be disastrous, Eenadu Television’s Director I Venkat said that more than one agency will lead to confusion and raised question about funding for the new system.

Avinash Pandey

Avinash Pandey, COO, ABP News Network, said, “Our current methodology is in line with global standards but the current sample is certainly not large enough – especially for genres like news. We need much larger sample, which could be achieved by implementing proposed RPD.”

If we are unable to even fund/sustain the current system (BARC), how will we pay for a second system, asked Pandey.

Suggesting the way forward, Pandey said BARC must measure cross-platform asap and the agency needs to improve its “outlier management system”, i.e. the way it detects tampered data, and deals with it.

Punit Misra

Zeel CEO Punit Misra was of the view that BARC needs to improve but for that the industry needs to back the agency by investing more into it.

Research heads and representative from TV Today, NDTV and Times Network focused on the importance to understand the difference between size and quality of sample while pressing the need to increase the sample size.

TRAI said that the meeting was to take feedback of stakeholders regarding performance of BARC, and areas of improvement. While the regulator concluded the meeting by saying that stakeholders seemed to be of the opinion that BARC was doing a good job but could be improved, it would seek views formally with a consultation paper.

The consultation paper floated by regulator has put up the points as below seeking stakeholders’ views:

1. Whether BARC has been able to accomplish the purpose with transparency and without any bias for which it has been established?

2. Do you feel that present shareholding/ownership pattern of BARC ensures adequate representation of all stakeholders to maintain its neutrality and transparent TV ratings? How its credibility and neutrality can be enhanced further?

3. Is there a need to promote competition in television rating services to ensure transparency, neutrality and fairness to give TAM rating? What regulatory initiatives/measures can be taken to make TV rating services more accurate and widely acceptable?

4. Is the current audience measurement technique used by BARC apposite? Suggest some methods, if any, to improve the current measurement techniques.

5. Does broadcasting programmes that are out of their category or in different language for some time during the telecast affect the TAM rating? If so, what measures should be adopted to curb it?

6. Can TV rating truly based on limited panel homes be termed as representative?

7. What should be done to reduce impact of manipulation of panel home data on overall TV ratings?

8. What should be the panel size both in urban and rural India to give a true representation of audience?

9. What method/technology would help to rapidly increase the panel size for television audience measurement in India? What will be the commercial challenge in implementing such solutions?

10. Should DPOs be mandated to facilitate collection of viewership data electronically subject to consent of subscribers to increase data collection points for better TRP ratings?

11. What percentage of STB supports transferring viewership data through establishing a reverse path/connection from STB? What will be the additional cost if existing STBs without return path are upgraded?

12. What method should be adopted for privacy of individual information and to keep the individual information anonymous?

13. What should be the level/granularity of information retrieved by the television audience measurement agency from the panel homes so that it does not violate principles of privacy?

14. What measures need to be taken to address the issue of panel tampering/infiltration?

15. Should BARC be permitted to provide raw level data to broadcasters? If yes, how secrecy of households, where the people meters are placed, can be maintained?

16. Will provisioning of raw level data to broadcasters, in any manner, either directly or indirectly contravene the policy guidelines for television rating agencies prescribed by MIB?

17. Is the current disclosure and reporting requirements in the present guidelines sufficient? If no, what additional disclosure and reporting requirements should be added?

Written comments on the consultation paper are invited from the stakeholders by January 2, 2019. Counter-comments, if any, may be submitted by January 16, 2019.

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