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Saubhadra Chatterji, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, January 08, 2014
In a move that may alter the kind of shows and news programmes that make it to your TV screens, the centre is readying to usher in drastic changes in the currently questionable process of rating TV shows. After complaints poured in from several quarters including the state-run Prasar Bharati about the dubious methods adopted by private agency TAM for ranking Indian TV shows, the centre wants to make the process transparent.

Under the stricter guidelines, rating agencies will be required to survey 20,000 viewers at the beginning, to rate shows. The size of this sample base has to be increased by 10,000 viewers every year till it reaches at least 50,000. The agencies will also be asked to rotate at least 25% of the sample-homes annually to include fresh viewers.

For greater transparency, rating agencies will also have to reveal their “detailed methodology” of ranking programmes to the government.

The TAM has replaced its earlier practice of Total Rating Points with a new measure — the Television Viewership In Thousands (TVT). The ratings play a key role for broadcasters in getting advertisements.
 
TAM is often accused of using a sample size, not adequately reflecting the diversity in viewership. “These (guidelines) are essential to account for the large TV viewership  of the country,” said an official.

The government will also ban cross-holding of shares between rating agencies and broadcasters to avoid conflict of interest. Rating agencies will have to be registered with the union information and broadcasting and can be audited by the telecom regulator (TRAI).