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TRAI slams industry no-show at OHD on BARC TV ratings mechanism

The broadcast industry is currently in a churn over landing page and outliers in BARC’s TV ratings data. Though BARC has stopped including outliers in its weekly ratings data, the matter is far from resolved. The broadcast industry has been voicing its concerns on the TV ratings mechanism in the country. 

Taking these concerns into consideration, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) had issued a Consultation Paper on ‘Review of Television Audience Measurement and Ratings in India’. TRAI is of the view that the shortcomings in the ratings system have to be rectified, irrespective of whether the rating is undertaken by either BARC or by an independent rating agency. 

A pertinent question raised in the paper was: “Whether BARC has been able to accomplish the purpose with transparency and without any bias for which it has been established?” 

TRAI also asked industry stakeholder as to whether there is need to create competition in rating services. It posed the question: “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? 

TRAI held an Open House Discussion (OHD) in Mumbai on July 3, 2019 in this regard, which was open to the entire industry. However, an industry insider informed Adgully that major stakeholders were not present at the OHD. He said, “It seemed like those who had strong opinions against BARC didn’t attend in order to remain anonymous, which actually defeated all purpose of the Open House Discussion. What’s the use of only having people who said all good things about them?” 

On seeing the low participation from the industry, Sunil K Gupta, Secretary, TRAI, expressed his displeasure and said, “We want to help the industry, but if this is the response in an Open House, then nothing can be done. Even now we receive over 100 complaints every week against BARC. Why can’t those people come and express in this forum? If you all keep mum, how can we take corrective action?” 

Meanwhile, it is learnt from industry sources that the BARC India Board is meeting today (July 4, 2019) in Mumbai to take stock of the current situation in the broadcast landscape in India. The Board had previously met last week to appoint a two-member committee, comprising Nakul Chopra and Pravin Tripathi, to independently review the data authentication process.


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