India

Existing TRP system not very scientific and is prone to manipulation, parliamentary panel told

NEW DELHI: Officials told a parliamentary panel on Thursday that the existing system to gauge Television Rating Points (TRP) is “not very scientific” and is prone to manipulation, according to sources.
Amid a row over an alleged TRP scam, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology was briefed on the issue and other related matters by Press Council of India (PCI) Chairman Justice C K Prasad, Information and Broadcasting Ministry Secretary Amit Khare and other senior officials.
The panel, chaired by Congress MP Shashi Tharoor, met “to hear the views of the representatives of News Broadcasters Association, Press Council of India and Prasar Bharati on the subject ‘Ethical Standards in Media Coverage'”, among other matters.
Sources in the panel said an elaborate and comprehensive discussion was held on fake news, the alleged TRP scam and issues related to media regulation in the current era of convergent technology.
To specific questions, officials told the panel members that the current system to ascertain TRP is “not very scientific and accurate”, sources said.
The officials suggested that the existing system is outdated and prone to manipulation. Also, it doesn’t give actual picture of viewership as the number of data collection points is very low.
Sources said the panel members, however, didn’t mention any specific channel during its proceedings.
The Mumbai Police has recently claimed to have busted the TRP scam and arrested at least five people in this connection. Those arrested include news channel employees. The police is also questioning executives of Arnab Goswami-led Republic Media Group with regard to the case. Republic Media Group has denied any wrongdoing.
As the controversy surrounding the alleged scam grew, the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC), which provides TRP data, on Thursday announced a temporary suspension of weekly ratings of news channels across languages.
The council intends to review and augment the current standards of measurement to improve on “statistical robustness”, and the exercise will result in a “pause” in the weekly ratings for up to 12 weeks, an official statement said.
The News Broadcasters Association (NBA) has welcomed BARC’s decision and urged it to completely overhaul its systems for restoring the credibility of the information it collects.

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