IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis

Explained: TRP and its loopholes

10th October, 2020 GOVERNANCE

What is a TRP?

  • The TRP or Target Rating Point is the metric used by the marketing and advertising agencies to evaluate this viewership.
  • In simple terms, anyone who watches television for more than a minute is considered a viewer.
  • In India, the TRP is recorded by the Broadcast Audience Research Council using Bar-O-Meters that are installed in televisions in selected households.
  • As on date, the BARC has installed these meters in 44,000 households across the country.
  • Audio watermarks are embedded in video content prior to broadcast.
  • These watermarks are not audible to the human ear, but can easily be detected and decoded using dedicated hardware and software.
  • As viewing details are recorded by the Bar-O-Meters, so are the watermarks.

How are the households selected?

  • Selection of households where Bar-O-Meters are installed is a two-stage process.
  • The first step is the Establishment Survey, a large-scale face-to-face survey of a sample of approximately 3 lakh households from the target population. This is done annually.
  • Out of these, the households which will have Bar-O-Meters or what the BARC calls the Recruitment Sample are randomly selected.
  • The fieldwork to recruit households is not done directly by BARC.
  • The viewing behaviour of panel homes is reported to BARC India daily.
  • Coincidental checks either physically or telephonically are done regularly.
  • Certain suspicious outliers are also checked directly by BARC India.
  • “BARC India also involves a separate vigilance agency to check on outliers that it considers highly suspicious,”.
  • And as per the guidelines of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, these households rotate every year.
  • This rotation is in such a manner that older panel homes are removed first while maintaining the representativeness of the panel.
  • The rotation is conducted in a staggered manner by rotating panel homes every month.
  • The Ministry guidelines further say that the secrecy and privacy of the panel homes must be maintained, and asked the BARC to follow a voluntary code of conduct.

What are the loopholes in the process?

  • The Mumbai police claimed that households were being paid to manipulate the TRP.
  • “As in all our previous cases of suspected panel homes intrusions, BARC India continues to follow its established vigilance and disciplinary guidelines.
  • BARC purpose is to accurately and faithfully report ‘What India Watches’.
  • Several doubts have been raised on many previous occasions about the working of the TRP.
  • TRP process needs a rethink, there is a urgent need that media companies work out a way for regulating their content.
  • As per several reports, about 70% of the revenue for television channels comes from advertising and only 30% from subscription.
  • Many channels have argued that the subscription rates, which are controlled by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), should be raised so that TV channels are not forced to serve the lowest common denominator.