The TRP ratings on which the popularity of television programmes are currently being judged are grossly inadequate according to a report by a committee chaired by FICCI general secretary Dr Amit Mitra.
The committee was set up following concerns that the system of generation of Television Rating Points (TRPs) contained several loopholes, the foremost being the small size of sample television households and the complete exclusion of houses in rural India. It has suggested that the sample size should be doubled in next two years and increased to 30,000 in a period of five years.
Since TRPs have a major impact on the programming content of TV channels, issues of accountability, transparency and objectivity in the TRP system assumes significance because inadvertently false ratings could hurt not just broadcasters and advertisers but also the TV viewing public.
When the report was submitted to her on Monday morning, Union Information and Broadcasting minister Ambika Soni told reporters that the report would act as a roadmap for the ongoing review of the TRP system in India.
"The committee has reviewed the TRP mechanism exhaustively and has looked at all the different parameters associated with the process. We will review the recommendations," Soni said.
In India, TRPs are generated entirely through the private sector - through two firms - TAM Media Research and Amap. TAM Media research responded to the committee report saying it welcomed it and was in the process of initiating reforms to the process of television audience research.
Concerned over the widespread criticism of the TRP system in India, the government had first asked the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) to look into the issue and the TRAI had suggested self regulation of TRPs through an industry led body titled the Broadcast Audience Research Council.
Though some movement was made in that direction, the broadcast industry has not managed the BARC to be operational so far. It was this, which promoted the government to set up the committee headed by Dr Mitra.
The committee has now asked the industry to broadbase BARC and make it operational by mid of 2011. The report said the BARC was best equipped to regulate TRP but suggested that it should have a government representative on its board.