For the subsequent 12 weeks viewers won’t see any news channel flashing on its display, ‘we’re most watched community’, ‘we’re most trusted community’, ‘we’re India’s favorite News Channel’, – so on & so on. The tv rating measurement company, BARC ( Broadcast Audience Research Council) won’t be releasing any information pertaining to news channel viewerships. So, no TRP – Television rating Points, for the subsequent 3 months. And therefore not one of the noise and cacophony that you simply noticed in your display will disturb your viewing pleasure. You will gravitate to the community that you simply like and belief, you shall watch what you need and above all, all of the theatrics which has at present turn out to be the hallmark of News Channels won’t be wanted as there is no such thing as a rush to seize the viewership.
To the layman, TRP is a grimy phrase. Its a lynching whip, which has typically been utilized by individuals who imagine, News is a severe enterprise. The frequent man makes use of TRP as a software to trash shoddy and excessive sensationalism dished out to TV viewers, within the identify of News & Views. For TV News Editors, its a collar spherical your neck, which reminds you of your continued enslavement to mad rush for tacky brownie factors in entrance of the channel house owners. The TV Editors have nearly find yourself changing into a pawn within the arms of frenzied tamasha dolled out as News. Let me quote, News Broadcasters Association (NBA) President, Rajat Sharma, “The current atmosphere of toxicity, abuse and fake news is no longer tenable and NBA as the custodian and guardian of Indian Broadcast Media believes a blog step of putting ratings of news genre on hold will help in improving content”. Bold phrases from a Newscaster & channel proprietor who has been one of many longest serving TV journalists.
Mr. Sharma’s phrases denote a rising undercurrent of robust opinion amongst main journalists, who’ve been on the receiving finish of viewer anguish. When we proclaim, journalism because the fourth pillar of democracy, don’t we count on a minimal requirements of social consciousness, political consciousness, societal obligations and credibility. When any of those attributes is compromised, we all know the folks at massive are being disadvantaged of their rights and robbed off their naked expectations from journalism.
While, we are able to discuss at size on faux news, abuse and poisonous content material on news channels, lets first give attention to the disquiet on the TRP entrance.
The Mumbai Police Commissioner addressed a press convention these days to proclaim that scores offered by BARC have been compromised. That a complain was filed by BARC and its contractual company, HANSA over TRP manipulation. Basis the stated criticism, a former worker of HANSA was arrested, quite a few ‘Bar O Meter’ properties investigated and a deeper investigation has been initiated to uncover the corrupt practises in vogue to inflate and manufacture TV scores aka TRP. That on the idea of such inflated TRPs, commercials have been safe by news channels, which might once more be construed as felony break of belief and deception. The Mumbai Police Commissioner, named three news channels – Fakt Marathi, Box Cinema and Republic TV. Post this disclosure, the Mumbai Police has been interrogating officers of HANSA and Republic TV, whereas house owners of Fakt Marathi and Box Cinema have been arrested.
Republic TV took this disclosure as a private affront and carried a sustained marketing campaign to show that different networks had been concerned in TRP manipulation, whereas Republic TV was being framed for placing Mumbai Police in dock over Sushant Singh Rajput’s suicide. Amidst this raving and ranting, the larger query that wanted reply was how has the rating measurement system established by BARC collapsed. How did the manipulations go unnoticed for years. What occurred to the inner scrutiny mechanism arrange by BARC to determine anomalies and punish the manipulators. Let me once more quote NBA President, Mr. Rajat Sharma, “For many years NBA has been highlighting its concerns about the veracity of TV viewership data, which have been prone to irrational fluctuations. Recent events have shown that here is much more at stake than just the measurement of new channels’ popularity. Indeed, a healthy and vibrant TV news industry is vital to Indian Democracy”.
Let me in short clarify how far fetched and unrepresentative is the present TRP measuring course of and extrapolation of viewership information.
When broadcasters began airing TV content material, the parameter to measure their viewership power needed to be structured in order that advertisers may plan their promotion on respective platforms. To facilitate the identical, metering containers had been fitted in viewer house to know the viewing sample and likewise extrapolate the recognition of the channel. These containers are at present known as, “Bar O Metre”. The information therefore collected is extrapolated for all the vary of TV related properties and a generic image is introduced which particulars the quantity of people that watch a channel (Viewership), period of time they spend in watching a channel (Time Spend) and propensity to return to the channel seen (stickiness). The similar is additional damaged all the way down to minute by minute and when taken collectively, a sample emerges which suggests, that are the extremely watched exhibits, what’s their time spend and the way the present contributes within the stickiness of the news channel.
Ideally, it is a unbelievable association. But in actuality, the information is open to extreme manipulation, distortion and rigging. Why so?
BARC claims to have 44,000 ‘Bar O Meter’ put in in properties all throughout the nation and the information therefore procured is projected over 850 million TV viewers to current a holistic image. In apply it means a household of four or 5 ideally defines what over 5 lakh folks would view on their TV units. This projection in itself is vastly flawed.
Rather than distributing the ‘Bar O Meter’ universally throughout India, they’re put in on the idea of density of inhabitants. So all metros have a a lot increased density of Bar O Meters than rural or semi-urban areas. And to additional distort the information, Bar O Meters are positioned in increased density in states the place consumption is increased. So Maharashtra would have 2000 Bar O Meters put in whereas Bihar & Jharkhand taken collectively have lower than 500 Bar O Meters. This once more results in huge distortion in information therefore acquired. Here I want to level out that Uttar Pradesh and Delhi taken collectively signify 30 – 35 per cent of viewership information. Yes, simply two states have 30 – 35 per cent weightage within the information offered by BARC.
To present weightage to rural viewership, BARC has positioned 40 per cent Bar O Meters in semi-urban and rural areas. These containers have been positioned on Free to air platform supplied by Doordarshan and native cable networks. While the thought is noble to offer correct illustration of viewers, the aspect of manipulation, assumes huge proportions.
Let me elaborate.
When a ‘Bar O Meter’ is positioned in a house, a contractual settlement is reached between the survey agent, in BARC’s case – HANSA, and the house proprietor. The house proprietor would watch TV channels as per his selection, for the length he wishes. The house proprietor won’t disclose the presence of ‘Bar O Meter’ to anyone. And for the stated service, the house proprietor will get a hard and fast sum of cash. As has been delivered to gentle by Mumbai Police, for a consideration of 400 – 500 rupees, house house owners had been being tutored to look at a news channel for a pre-fixed length. If a specific News Channel is ready to affect over 200 to 500 such properties, are you able to think about the distinction in its viewership. An affect on 500 properties means an enhanced viewership of about 25 lakhs. For any News Channel to get an extra 25 lakh viewer in numerous time slot in totality would garner common of 3 – four per cent market share of the news pie. Such an enormous fluctuation would end in any manipulative channel gaining unparalleled dominance within the extremely contested market the place News Channels are combating one another by 1 per cent margin.
It is exactly this manipulation that’s the bone of rivalry.
Also the location of Bar O Meters can be questioned as overwhelming majority of those containers have bee out up in properties, which aren’t conscious and literate viewers. As was present in Mumbai by the police, the house house owners who had been being manipulated belonged to the poorer part of the society. While they couldn’t even learn or write, their viewing of English News channels was deciding the destiny of 6 English News Channels. I’m not being raised, however for heavens sake, does this meet logic. Likewise, Hindi news channels are open to manipulation from cities like Chennai, Bengaluru, Guwahati, Asansol, Cuttack or states like Tripura, Manipur, West Bengal, Kerala and so forth.
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Clearly, there’s a large disconnect in all the information assortment and extrapolation system of BARC. Its is these loopholes that are at present being exploited by vested pursuits and the viewer is being robbed off his selection.
This doesn’t cease right here. Lets study the financial rip off. Advertisers plan their campaigns foundation rating offered by BARC. The whole TV Ad spend in about 45,000 crore. Of this about about 5000 – 7000 crore advert spend involves News tv. The distinction between the charges commanded by high 3 news channels with the remaining is about 70 per cent. So, if number one news channel instructions a worth of Rs 5000/- per 10 seconds for commercials a quantity 7 channel would at finest search a worth of Rs. 800/-. This pricing dynamics is sufficient to clarify the mad rush to make it to the highest and nook the key commercial pie. However, if the scores by themselves are rigged, then its not simply the viewer who’s being cheated, its the advertiser too, who’s being robbed off his cash.
In impact, a couple of manipulating unhealthy eggs, not simply destroy edifice of Journalism, they really act as crooks. While exemplary motion have to be taken in opposition to these indulging in TRP manipulation, it’s incumbent upon BARC to finish flush the system out of all its flaws. TRP ought to the illustration of individuals’s selection, their appreciation of News and their expectation of News from TV channels. TRP can’t turn out to be a software within the hand of corrupt to propagate falsehood, negativity, faux narratives and distortions. It is therefore this pause and rethink of BARC is most welcome.
(Writer of the article, Ajay Kumar, is Consulting Editor, India TV)
(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed inside this text are the non-public opinions of the creator. The opinions don’t replicate the views of India TV)