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TRAI Wants Self Regulation Of TV Ratings Through BARC, Releases Guidelines

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TRAI or the Telecom Regulatory Authority of Indian has been taking concrete steps towards creating an accreditation mechanism for recognizing television viewership rating agencies. After having released a consultation paper on TV viewership rating in April and thereafter an Open House involving all stakeholders, TRAI has today released recommendations on Guidelines for Television Rating Agencies for more transparency and accountability in the rating system.

TRAI TV ratings-001

It is unusual to find such a strongly worded guidelines, hinting that the Ministry is directly involved in it.

The recommendations support self-regulation of television ratings through an industry-led body like Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) and that any agency meeting the eligibility criteria can apply and get registered with Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) for doing the rating work. MIB would be notifying the guidelines for registration, eligibility, methodology, complaints and the like.

Importantly, the number of panel homes for collecting data will be a minimum of 20,000 and will be increased by 10,000 till it becomes 50,000. One more crucial step to prevent nepotism is the mention of crossholdings and restrictions on substantial equity holding of 10% or more between rating agencies and broadcasters/advertisers/advertising agencies.

In a transparent manner, the paid data would be available to all stakeholders and the rating agency will have to get its rating methodology audited and declared publically quarterly. In six months, the existing rating agency, TAM, has to follow the guidelines.

For nearly half a decade, TRAI’s recommendations have gathered dust, with little progress. TAM and BARC never heeded. Hence the time frame for implementation now has become a crucial factor.

The catch? There is no talk of how the entire process would be funded.

For 14 years, the only agency for the TV audience measurement system has been TAM and it was a virtual currency on the basis of which advertisers planned, bought and sold. Time is now ripe for it to evolve. And only time will tell if these remain recommendations or are finally acted upon.

What do you think? Should TRAI interfere outside its domain or should it have waited for the 2014 launch of BARC?

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