Trai seeks BARC board overhaul; major implications for TV industry on anvil

Topics TRAI  | BARC | TV industry

Trai has also pushed for more active participation of advertisers to ensure greater transparency, saying the term of board members should be of two years only.
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) on Tuesday came out with a list of recommendations to restructure the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC), a move that will have far-reaching implications for the domestic television industry.

 
BARC measures television viewership in India. Set up in 2015, members include advertisers, agencies, and broadcasters.
Among the key changes sought by Trai include a complete overhaul of the composition of the board of BARC.

 
The authority has said at least 50 per cent of the board should consist of independent members, including a measurement technology expert, a statistician of “national repute”, and two representatives from either the government or the regulator.

 
It has also pushed for more active participation of advertisers to ensure greater transparency, saying the term of board members should be of two years only. The regulator has also sought to introduce annual audits of BARC by an independent third party, following concerns around neutrality and reliability of BARC TV ratings, it said.

In a statement, BARC said it was reviewing the Trai recommendations in consultation with its board.

The recommendations, incidentally, have come after 15 months of consultation with various industry stakeholders. In December 2018, Trai had suo-moto introduced a consultation paper to review the BARC TV ratings system.

 
The regulator has pushed for equal representation and equal voting rights of industry associations — the Indian Broadcasting Federation, Indian Society of Advertisers, and Advertising Agencies Association of India. Equal rights, according to Trai, should be allowed irrespective of their equity holding.

 
The regulator has suggested that chairmanship of the board should be rotated among the three industry associations, every two years.

 
And, there should be a cooling period of four years for nominees of the industry associations, in case of consecutive terms.


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