TRP refers to Target Rating Point, which is a metric used in marketing and advertising to indicate the percentage of the target audience reached by a campaign or advertisement through a communication medium. In case of television, a device is attached to a few thousand houses which calculates the time period channels viewed by them and acts as a sample to calculate TRP. In India, TRP is calculated by Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) using Bar-o-meters. It has been installed on around 40000 Televisions in India and Viwership of more than one minute is considered in calculation of TRP. BARC is an industry body jointly owned by advertisers, TV channels, advertising agencies created in 2010.
Importance of TRP
Based on TRP, ratings are provided to various programmes on Television. Better rating of a programme means its viewership is more and bad rating means the viewership is poor. TRP ratings of the programme help in dividing the total advertisement revenue of the channel. TRP also helps the programmes with good rating to have sponsors, better advertisements and investments in the programme.
How Someone Can Rig TRP data
TRP data can be rigged if the TV channels, programme broadcasters etc are able to find out the houses in which the device has been attached by the BARC.
Recently a TRP scam has been unearthed against various TV channels which have manipulated TRP data and advertising revenue. This includes premier news channels like Republic TV, Fakt Marathi, Aaj Tak, india Today, Box Cinema TV. A penalty of Rs 5 lakh has also been registered against TV Today network. In the past it has also been reported by BARC that they have observed unusual activities and viewership from some households on whose Television the Bar-o-meters have been installed.
Issues in Indian TRP system
- 70 % revenue of Indian TV channels come from advertisements and 30% re Thus many times TRP manipulated to manipulate the advertisement revenue of the TV channels.
- Often this models leads to TRP journalism among the news channels.
- Important issues of the nation are sidelined. TV channels are involved in producing masala news and the issues like unemployment, inflation, economic growth are neglected. Thus it creates a negative image of media.
- It also promotes hate narrative on the news channels as it has been seen that programs creating hate among the communities are getting more TRP. Thus the channels which create quality content are sidelined.
- Parliamentary panel also told that the current system is not very scientific and prone to manipulations.
- Sample size is very small, thus manipulation is easy. Only 40000 devices cannot represent a country which has crores of households.
- Bad TRP rating to good TV programmes will discourage the broadcasters to create quality content.
- Allegations have been made that Broadcasters manipulate the data in connivance with the BARC. There has been leakage of data from the regulator end to the Broadcasters.
- Data collection directly from the Direct to Home (DTH) service providers like Airtel, Dish TV, Tata sky.
- Strict action to be taken against officials and workers of BARC involved in leakage of data of the houses on which device is installed.
- Self regulation of media houses, which was also appealed by Union I&B Minister Prakash Javadekar.
- The subscription fees of the TV channels are regulated by Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI). There needs to be a rethink over the low cap applied on the subscription fees of TV channels.
- A more scientific and full proof method has to be evolved by BARC in collaboration with TRAI and Information & Broadcasting Ministry for TRP calculation.
- Sample size of the houses involved in data collection can also be increased. Also, multiple agencies can be involved in this activity so that any mismatch in data can be investigated.
Media is also called as the fourth pillar of democracy. It acts as a check on the three organs of the governance system. If the media is biased and manipulated, the democracy will weaken. Hence there is a need of better self regulation and a wide debate over how media should take its course. Government agencies should fully cooperate in it and if necessary, a suitable legislation may be brought to contain this issue.