New Delhi: Expressing dissatisfaction over the current system of gauging popularity of TV programmes, a committee constituted to review the television rating point (TRP) system has recommended increasing the sample size from the present 8,000 homes to 30,000 in both rural and urban areas.
The committee, which submitted its report to information and broadcasting minister Ambika Soni on Monday, has taken a serious view of the small sample size used by the two existing rating agencies in India.
It observed that rural areas have been left out from the current system of TRP measurement.
It has recommended an increase in the sample size from 8,000 homes to 15,000 urban and rural households, over a period of two years and then to 30,000 over the next three years covering urban areas, rural areas and small towns besides Jammu and Kashmir and North East to provide a complete geographical coverage of the country.
“Rural Households are not covered at all,” Amit Mitra, FICCI secretary general, who headed the committee said after submitting the report.
Aiming to make the Broadcast Audience Research Corporation (BARC) more inclusive, the committee recommended broadening the constitution of the board to make it more inclusive.
The company structure of BARC should have representation from broadcasters, advertisers, and advertising agencies including Public Service Broadcasters, it said.
It recommended that there should be a 12-member board in BARC constituting seven members from broadcasters, including the Public Service Broadcasters, three members from advertisers and two members from advertising agencies, including Directorate of Advertising and Visual Publicity.
It has recommended constitution of a high-powered committee within BARC to guide BARC in the area of research, design and analysis.
Expressing concern over the lack of transparency in the methodology of conducting the TRP measurement, the committee said selection process of rating agency should be carried out in a credible, transparent and statistically robust manner, which should be subjected to financial and process audit.
There should be no cross-holding between the rating agencies and broadcasters, advertisers and the advertising agencies to avoid conflict of interest.
After receiving the report, Soni said, “This is a matter of great importance. The ministry will examine it in great detail”.
Mitra said the recommendations of the high-powered committee would be binding on the BARC.
The committee has suggested that broadcasters, advertisers and advertising agencies should pay a certain percentage of their relevant turnovers to BARC on an annual basis to fund the expansion of sample size for TRP measurement.
The total cost of expansion of TRP measurement system over five years would be around Rs660 crore which is approximately 0.32% of the total TV industry size in India, it said.
The committee felt that the level of expenditure should not be very difficult for the industry to meet.
Realizing that people meters being used in TRP measurements were very expensive, the committee has suggested that efforts be made by BARC to reduce the manufacturing cost by exploring innovation and local manufacturing to overcome financial limitations which are hampering increase in sample size.
It also took note of the fact that the people meters attract 50% import duty which makes them expensive. The committee suggested that as an immediate short-term measure reduction in the import duty be considered.
Decrying the secrecy exercised by rating agencies in disclosing the data and methodology used through the process of the entire rating measurement, it recommended the guidelines set out in the telecom regulator Trai report of 2008 on the key eligibility conditions of rating agencies.
The committee was constituted to review the television rating point (TRP) system in India and study the feasibility of setting up an alternative mechanism through legislation in May last year.
It was constituted in the backdrop of perceived deficiencies in the present system of generation of TRPs in India and its possible impact on the programming content of TV channels.