The Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has set up a four-member committee to study the different aspects of the Television Rating Points (TRP) system and make recommendations for changes to the existing guidelines. The committee will be headed by Prasar Bharati Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Shashi S Vempati. It will comprise IIT Kanpur Statistics Professor Dr Shalabh, Centre for Development of Telematics Executive Director Rajkumar Upadhyay and IIM Bangalore’s Decision Sciences professor at the Centre for Public Policy, Pulak Ghosh.
In an order issued on Wednesday, the Ministry said that the guidelines for television rating agencies in the country were notified after deliberations by the Parliamentary Committee, Committee on Television Rating Points and recommendations of Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), among others.
This comes after the ‘fake TRP' scam broke out in early October, where Mumbai police Commissioner Parambir Singh alleged that three Mumbai-based channels — Republic TV, as well as Marathi channels Fakt Marathi and Box Cinema — were paying households to tune into their channels for a longer period in order to show higher television rating points (TRPs).
The order from the Ministry stated that a fresh look was needed at the guidelines that were being followed for a few years, “particularly keeping in view the recent recommendations of Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), technological advancements/interventions to address the system and further strengthening of the procedures for a credible and transparent rating system”.
“The Committee shall carry out an appraisal of the existing system, examine TRAI recommendations notified from time to time, overall industry scenario and address the needs of the stakeholders and make recommendations for robust, transparent and accountable rating system through changes, if any, in the existing guidelines,” the order states.
The Mumbai police had alleged that Republic TV, Fakt Marathi and Box Cinema were manipulating data and paying households to increase the TRPs. The TRP barometers, information of which is kept confidential, were installed for the Broadcast Audience Research Council of India (BARC) by a research agency named Hansa. However, former employees of the firm reportedly compromised the information.
Republic TV's CEO Vikas Khanchandani and others were questioned in the case. Hansa Research Group CEO Praveen Nijhara and a staffer were also quizzed by the police. Republic TV denied the allegations.
On October 15, the BARC announced that it was pausing the rating of news channels, and that its board will review its current standards of measuring. The exercise would cover all Hindi, regional, English news and business news channels.