TRP Scam- cause and remedy

“You don’t necessarily need atomic bombs to destroy a nation. Politicians who value their pockets than the life of citizens in cahoots with corrupt media houses and corporate companies always do that every day.  the TRP ( Television Rating Point ) Scam is one among the many scams which have recently surfaced. 

A revelation by Mumbai Police is not a new phenomenon. Many Skeletons are tumbling down from the cupboard of the corrupt media houses which are perpetuating to bringing down the gears to determine the grim reality of the rating system in India.

The FIR lodged by ex-employee of Hansa Research primarily indicates the prominent house Republic TV, Fakt Marathi, and Box Cinema, as per the Mumbai police. The names of India today group, though was missing in the findings of Mumbai police.

President of NBA (News broadcasters association) had already shared the same sentiments casting aspersions on the rating systems by BARC.  BARC is an acronym for Broadcast Audience Research Council). BARC is an industry body set up to design, commission, supervise and own an accurate, reliable and timely television audience measurement system for India through BAR-O- Meters. It currently measures TV Viewing habits of 197 million TV households in the country, using 40,000 sample panel homes.

BARC measuring indicators are not fool proof. It has a lot of flaws. First and foremost flaw of the advertisers are influenced by paltry 40,000 numbers which is just a fraction of 197 million TV households. These numbers are not logically and rationally binding or indicating the taste and preferences of the greater audience.

The second flaw of the BARC rating is based on the methodology itself. Nobody knows the BARC methodology how do they or their franchise partners choose the households to be considered as an ideal end-user of the broadcast.  Above all, even those paltry numbers are not even the authentic ideal viewers when these viewers are not natural beholders.

The Barometers are panels installed in certain households with a switch for every individual member of the family. They record what channels are being watched by each member of the family, and for how long.  Now, imagine the problem that we have installed the BAR-O-METERS at places where no one knows English to determine the viewership of English news which has been the case in the TRP scam. How would you determine the unadulterated viewership in this case?

These adulterated paltry numbers are the real cause of concern as they are the source which cheats the customers. There is always a psychosomatic impact of advertising on the human brain to attract attention. Persuading and compelling us to purchase. Advertising explores the art of influencing human behaviour to make certain purchase decisions which in other ways are not the inherent requirement. Humans are susceptible to fall prey to advertising. Customers get influenced by advertising and advertisers get influenced to ratings. In other words, the rating system influences the direct purchasing habits of customers.

Why are these ratings important for advertisers?

  1. Based on audience measurement data, ratings are assigned to various programmes on television.
  2. Television ratings in turn influence programmes produced for the viewers.
  3. Better ratings would promote a programme while poor ratings will discourage a programme.
  4. Incorrect ratings will lead to the production of programmes which may not be really popular while good programmes may be left out.
  5. Besides, TRPs are the main currency for advertisers to decide which channel to advertise on by calculating the cost-per-rating-point (CPRP).

In the recent TRP scam, it has been found that a bribe was offered to the households by the broadcasters to watch their channels or left their television open to record the viewership of the channel. Even the cable operators and multichannel operators can be asked and influenced to make the channel available as the “landing page” when the TV is switched on. 

What should be done in the case?

The Television rating system points needs to be revisited and it becomes the responsibility of the government, Advertisers and the Indian broadcasting foundation on to sit together to devise the organic traffic of the broadcasters. In my view, the govt. should not make it necessary to consider the rating system as a medium of forcing advertisers to book slots of their advertising with the BARC rating. Advertisers should do their own market research to consider the media house without any binding or inhibitions. They should be left open to consider any media house based on their own market research.

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