TRAI calls for overhauling TV rating agency BARC’s structure
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has recommended overhauling the structure of television audience measurement agency, Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC), saying there were concerns over the neutrality and reliability of the existing system.
The ministry of information and broadcasting notified the policy guideline for television rating agencies in India on January 10, 2014, under which the industry-led body BARC was accredited to carry out the ratings in India.
In a statement issued by TRAI secretary SK Gupta, the regulator said several concerns relating to neutrality and reliability of the existing rating system have been raised by stakeholders, which necessitated a need to review the existing television audience measurement and rating system.
After a consultation process involving all stakeholders, the broadcasting sector regulator recommended that structural reforms are required in the governance of BARC to mitigate the potential risk of conflict of interest, improve credibility and transparency.
The composition of BARC India’s board should be changed as part of the proposed structural reforms, TRAI said. It recommended that the board should have at least 50% independent members which should include one member as a measurement technology expert, one statistician of national repute from among the top institutions of the country and two representatives from the government or regulator.
The restructured board of BARC India should provide for equal representation of the three constituent industry associations—Advertising Agencies Association of India (AAAI), Indian Broadcasting Federation (IBF) and The Indian Society of Advertisers (ISA)—and with equal voting rights irrespective of their proportion of equity holding.
TRAI also recommended that the tenure of the members of the BARC India board shall be for two years. Active participation of representatives of the advertisers and the advertising agency will bring more accuracy, transparency, credibility, and neutrality in the system, due to their inherent need of advertisers to reach viewers accurately, it said.
The constituent industry associations shall be entitled to nominate their representatives to the board membership subject to the condition that a cooling period of four years shall be applicable between two consecutive tenures.
BARC should be at an arm’s length from its own subsidiary, Meterology Data Pvt Ltd, which is the sole data collecting agency for BARC, as of now; so that the entire process of measurement is carried out independently to ensure inherent checks in data inconsistency, the regulator said.
The rating agency should be mandated to increase the sample size from the existing 44,000 to 60,000 by the end of 2020, and 100,000 by the end of 2022 using the existing technology, it added.