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Help Govt may step in for TRP revamp
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New Delhi: With virtually no forward movement on the overhaul of television rating point (TRP) mechanism in the country as suggested by the government-appointed Amit Mitra panel in January, the central government may soon step in to take the matters in its own hand.

This comes after the broadcasters and advertisers' body has missed the initial timelines proposed by the information and broadcasting (I&B) ministry to streamline the TRP business that not only impacts the flow of R10,000 crore of advertisers' money but also affects the content and programming of channels. The Mitra panel has suggested a complete revamp of the existing TRP measurement mechanism and setting up of Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC), a joint venture between the Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF) and advertisers.

The BARC has to add 3,500 new people meters (hardware used for viewership measurement) in 2011 at an investment of R104.5 crore but no work in that direction has started, sources said. According to the I&B ministry timeline, all relevant committees under BARC had to take shape between May and June so as to initiate the TRP overhaul. However, BARC has missed this deadline, sources said.

The TRP overhaul as recommended by the Mitra panel suggested that BARC will have to invest R660 crore in expanding the sample size from the current levels of 8,000 people meters to 30,000 in next five years in order to capture the viewership trends of 500 million-strong viewer base. In the short run, BARC had to initiate the process of increasing the sample size from the present level to 15,000 people meters over the next two years at an estimated investment of R220 crore. Between 2013 and 2016, BARC would again be required to double the sample size of people meters from 15,000 to 30,000 at an estimated R440 crore.

Also, according to the I&B ministry’s timeline, BARC was required to set up a 12-member board by May so as to include broadcasters (6 private, 1 Doordarshan), advertisers (3 members) and advertising agencies (2 members including DAVP). But none of the outlined tasks have been undertaken so far, sources said. The I&B ministry had also given time till June-end to the yet-to-be functional BARC for putting in place a complaint redressal mechanism on the lines of the model followed by the Advertising Standards Council of India.

“The stakeholders must act on TRP overhaul else, the government will step in,” a government source said. “The government is committed to revamping the TRP mechanism in India. It is part of its overall initiatives to reform the broadcasting sector. It can step in anytime to fast-track the process,” a senior government official said.

When contacted, Paritosh Joshi, chairman of the IBF committee on research and insight and CEO of Star CJ Alive, said: “There is definitely some movement on BARC and its operations. There are some legal issues which are being sorted out. I will be in a better position to spell out what has been done within a week’s time.”

On January 10, 2011, FE was first to report the Mitra committee recommendations, which included raising the number of people meters and setting up the BARC among others.

While the Mitra panel rejected any direct role of the government, it has suggested government intervention by engaging the broadcast sector regulator if the private broadcasters and advertisers fail to make any headway. “That stage may soon come when Trai is asked to step in if no ground level work gets underway as the government is duty-bound to see that TRP mechanism is revamped,” a source said.

Source: The Financial Express

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