The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) on Wednesday asked the Broadcasters Audience and Research Council (BARC) to release news ratings with immediate effect after the council said it has taken initiatives to revise its protocols and mechanisms.
The development comes a year after BARC suspended television news rating over allegations of a possible tampering of Target Rating Point (TRP) by select news channels.
Besides asking BARC to release with immediate effect the news ratings, the ministry has also instructed the council to release data of the last three months for the genre in a monthly format to ensure fair and equitable representation of true trends.
The reporting of news and niche genres, under the fresh guidelines, shall be on a four week rolling average concept, the ministry said in a statement.
The ministry has also constituted a working group under the chairmanship of Prasar Bharti CEO Shashi Sekhar Vempati for consideration of leveraging the Return Path Data (RPD) capabilities for the use of TRP services, as also recommended by TRAI and the TRP Committee report.
The committee has been asked to submit its report in four months’ time.
“In the spirit of the TRP Committee Report and Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAIs) recommendation of April 24, 2020, Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) has undertaken revision in its processes, protocols, oversight mechanism and initiated changes in governance structure etc. The reconstitution of the Board and the Technical Committee to allow for the induction of Independent Members have also been initiated by BARC. A permanent Oversight Committee has also been formed. The access protocols for data have been revamped and tightened,” the ministry noted.
BARC has indicated that in view of the changes undertaken by it, it is reaching out to related constituencies to explain the new proposals and is in readiness to actually commence the release according to the new protocols.
In an official order, the ministry said the Joint Working Group will study different aspects of the data capturing including RPD in context of the audience measurement, international practices, security of the viewership data etc.
“The group may study successful global best practices in RPD, like that of Canada, the models/ pilots undertaken in lndia by BARC and other independent experiments by DTH operators and other relevant stakeholders and formulate a mandate for combining the data sources including RPD, if so decided with the existing sampling methodology(ies),” it said.
The Joint Working Group shall have Prasar Bharati CEO SS Vempati as the chairperson, and five members – one each from Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, Bureau of Indian Standards, BARC, All India Digital Cable Federation and Harit Nagpal, president of the DTH Association.
The group will specify minimum standards for RPD capable STBS, SOPs for certification and audit of the same. It will specify common protocols, data standards and modifications to current ratings methodology so that data from RPD capable STBS could be integrated into the current TV ratings system.
“Additionally, specify minimum standards for any smart phone-based apps to augment the above proposed RPD system for integration into the current TV ratings. Also specify for SOPs for certification and audit of the same,” the ministry said.
The group will evolve a consensus for how such different data sets including RPD/ smart phone-based data collection will be priced/costs shared within the framework of the TV ratings system.
It will specify consent-based privacy framework to govern all such data collection and use within TV ratings, and establish timelines for rollout of above with a clear roadmap to guide all stakeholders while laying out points of responsibility for the same.
“The secretariat for the Joint Working Group shall be provided by Prasar Bharati. The group may also invite any domain expert(s), and stakeholders representatives for its deliberations, if required. The group shall submit its report to the Ministry of lnformation and Broadcasting within four months of the date of issue of this order,” the ministry said.
(With inputs from agencies)