TV ratings agency needs reforms for credibility, says telecom regulator

Topics BARC | TRAI  | Telecom Minister

TRAI also recommended that the tenure of the members of the BARC India board shall be for two years.
The agency that fixes television ratings in India needs reforms in its structure and methodology for credibility, said the country's telecom regulator on Tuesday.

The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting notified the policy guidelines for television rating agencies in India on January 10, 2014, under which the industry-led body BARC was accredited to carry out the television ratings in India. BARC commenced its operations in 2015 and since then it is the sole provider of TV rating services on commercial basis.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) said several concerns relating to neutrality and reliability of the existing rating system have been raised by stakeholders, which necessitated a need to review the existing television audience measurement and rating system in India.

After a consultation process involving all stakeholders, TRAI recommended that structural reforms are required in the governance structure of BARC to mitigate the potential risk of conflict of interest, improve credibility, bring transparency, and instill confidence of all stakeholders in the TRP measurement system.

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

It recommended that the Board should have at least fifty per cent independent members which should include one member as a measurement technology expert, one statistician of national repute from among the top institutions of the country and two representatives from the government or regulator.

Restructured Board of BARC India should provide for equal representation of the three constituent Industry Associations -- Advertising Agencies Association of India (AAAI), Indian Broadcasting Federation (IBF), and The Indian Society of Advertisers (ISA) -- and with equal voting rights irrespective of their proportion of equity holding.

TRAI also recommended that the tenure of the members of the BARC India board shall be for two years.

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

The constituent Industry associations shall be entitled to nominate their representatives to the board membership subject to the condition that a cooling period of four years shall be applicable between two consecutive tenures, for any such nominee member, it said.

TRAI recommended that the tenure of the Chairman of the Board should not be more than two years and the chairmanship shall be rotated among the constituent industry associations in every two years.

The number of members in the technical committee should be increased to five with the addition of two external technical experts, it said. TRAI also recommended the forming of an oversight committee to guide BARC India in the areas of research, design, and analysis, and constantly improving the rating system.

The oversight committee should have representation from the National Council of Applied Economic Research, IIM, IIT, media research expert and demography expert, a nominee from the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, and TRAI, it said.

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

TRAI also recommended changes in BARC India methodology for a better rating system. To create a credible and accurate collection of data, multiple data collection agencies need to be encouraged, TRAI said. Competition and multiple agencies for data collection and processing would bring in new technologies, new research methodologies, new methods in analysis, as well as new and better ways to ensure better data quality, it said.

The recommendations came after TRAI suo-motu issued a consultation paper on "Review of Television Audience Measurement and Ratings in India" in December 2018.


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