New Delhi: The Broadcast Audience Research Council, or Barc, an industry body set up to measure the country’s television audience, has raised the ante in a fight between the government and the broadcasting sector by spurning the regulator’s suggestions on a proposed TV rating points, or TRP, system.
Barc wrote to the broadcast regulator, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, or Trai, on 31 July that the “government has absolutely and unequivocally no role to play” in audience measurement, adding that “self- regulation and government intervention are a clear contradiction in terms.”
In its draft recommendations issued on 24 July, Trai had recognized Barc as the institution that would oversee the audience measurement business in India, including selection and monitoring of research agencies that would carry out field research.
No consensus: Telecom Regulatory Authority of India chairman Nripendra Mishra. (Photo: Ramesh Pathania / Mint)
While Trai said it favoured self regulation by the industry, it recommended the appointment of two officials from the ministry of information and broadcasting (I&B) on Barc’s board.
It said the I&B officials’ assenting vote would be required in the selection of the research agency.
Barc said in its representation, which has been viewed by Mint: “Barc will operate as an independent joint industry body with self regulation. There will be no MoU (memorandum of understanding, or agreement) with the ministry of information and broadcasting or any government body.”
Barc was constituted in September by three independent industry associations—the Indian Society of Advertisers, the Indian Broadcasting Foundation and the Advertising Agencies Association of India.
“Government has intervened in an industry initiative, engaged the industry in a prolonged dialogue that has impeded progress; and now seeks to direct the industry to do, under its overall supervision, what the industry had set out to do on its own in the first place,” Barc said in its representation.
Opposing Trai’s proposal that the ministry “shall provide the key eligibility norms for the selection of rating agencies and also provide performance obligation norms...,” Barc said: “What specialist knowledge or demonstrated expertise MIB (the ministry of information and broadcasting) has in this regard is not evident.”
Barc also opposed a recommendation to include nominees from ministry of statistics and programme implementation, the National Council of Applied Economic Research and the Indian Statistical Institute, Kolkata, on its committe.
“Barc is an industry initiative by equal partners to set up a robust, transparent and representative audience measurement system. Because of the conflicting interests of these partners, there are inherent checks and balances within the system. So we are unable to see why this body or the process needs government intervention,” said Chintamani Rao, chairman, Barc, and chief executive officer of Times Global Broadcasting Co. Ltd.
Trai will place its final recommendations, along with these industry comments, on its website within a week.
“It does not surprise me at all,” said Trai chairmanNripendra Misra. “They (industry) have always said they don’t want any intervention; they had opposed it during the open house discussion as well.”