The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) may step and issue standards to correct distortions in TRPs being collected by the various TV channels.
"TRAI is mandated to step in to set up standards in view of the distortions and manipulations in TRPs being reported. Very soon it may move in," said a senior government official on condition that he is not named.
The move is expected after NDTV sued TAM and Nielsen, a global TV rating agency, for billions of dollars, for allegedly manipulating viewership data.
Explaining how TV viewership ratings are distorted, the official said certain TV channels 'lure' metered households to keep a particular channel on for long durations of time which translates into a higher viewership rating for those channels.
"The sample of 8160 households is too small for a country with 148 million TV households. The figures also depend on where these metered household are located, whether in rural or urban areas and what kind of socio economic segment comprises the sample size," the official said admitting the deficiencies in the present setup.
TAM India, which supplies TRPs or TV viewership figures on the basis of meter readings installed in 8,160 households, is a joint venture between Kantar Media and Nielsen.
This is the first time that a TV channel has come out openly against the prevalent state of affairs although it had been spoken of for quite sometime now.
An appropriate TRP mechanism is important to guide the advertising industry to act rationally act on allocating ad resources to different TV channels.
In March, industry players had joined hands to form the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC), an audience research joint body.
But interestingly, Nielsen, the TV rating agency that NDTV has accused of manipulating viewership ratings in India for at least the last eight years, is doing BARC's research work for a proper audience measurement apparatus.