Advertisement
Sunday, Oct 17, 2021
Outlook.com
Outlook.com

If There’s Evidence Of TRP Manipulations, I&B Ministry Can Cancel Channel's Licence: Manish Tewari

Former I&B minister Manish Tewari talks about how TRP numbers have always been suspect in India, if fraud or cheating is established, the top CEOs and anchors of TV channels can be arrested, and much more.

If There’s Evidence Of TRP Manipulations, I&B Ministry Can Cancel Channel's Licence: Manish Tewari
Former Information and Broadcasting minister Manish Tewari | File photo
If There’s Evidence Of TRP Manipulations, I&B Ministry Can Cancel Channel's Licence: Manish Tewari
outlookindia.com
2020-10-09T18:18:56+05:30

How can TRPs be manipulated? 

TRP manipulation is the oldest mug’s game in town. Before January 2014, TRPs were essentially generated by one company called AC Nielsen.

AC Nielsen Holding traced its way back to the media empire of Mr. Rupert Murdoch. Ever since the broadcasting space was liberalised somewhere around 2006-08, there were recommendations by the TRAI that this paradigm needs to be cleaned up. I put a regulatory framework on it when I was the Information and Broadcasting minister, after taking approval from the Cabinet. There were repeated recommendations that an industry body should be deputed to measure TRPs. Then in the time of Prakash Javdekar and later Arun Jaitley, the BARC Broadcast Audience Research Council) came into existence.  

So, TRP has had a troubled history in India, and even internationally. The revenue model of the TV industry in India is flawed. In most advanced countries, the revenue model is 60 per cent subscription and 40 per cent advertising. In India, it is 100 per cent advertising. So, the eyeballs are measured by this opaque system of people’s meters colloquially called TRP’s. Then this becomes the indices for an advertising agency in the broadcast space to put in their money which was to the tune of Rs 25,000 crore even during my time and is now estimated at 40,000 crores annually. 

Aren’t the BARC meters in undisclosed locations? 

BARC claims as AC Nielsen used to do earlier that the people’s meters are confidential. Howsoever, the prevailing wisdom in the industry has always been to the contrary.  

What is the punishment if found guilty? 

I don’t know what the Mumbai police are going to hold them responsible for but in the India Penal Code (IPC) I reckon it will be cheating, fraud, etc. Various sections of the Indian penal code will apply. If the evidence of wrongdoing is unimpeachable, it is enough for the I&B ministry to cancel the license of the broadcaster.

Is there a foolproof method to measure TRPs? 

There is. With technological advancement, you can measure the TV viewership in every home by installing a chip. In England, they are already doing it. The mass of data becomes voluminous but it is technologically possible. BARC may have increased the number of People’s Meters to 40,000 but that is nothing in comparison to the 900 million viewers in India. Most companies measuring TRPs are owned by advertising companies. It is like you own the examiner.  

Some say going after TV channels like Republic TV is an attack on freedom of the press. 

The alleged activity falls in the domain of criminality. If someone is rigging circulation numbers of newspapers and magazines or TRPs of TV channels, how can it be an attack on freedom of the press or freedom of expression?  

Can the CEO or top anchor of the TV channel be arrested? 

From what my understanding of the corporate law is, the top management of the companies in cases of fraud and cheating is always vicariously liable.

Advertisement

Outlook Newsletters

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Read More from Outlook

Two Vendors From UP, Bihar Shot Dead By Militants In J&K

Two Vendors From UP, Bihar Shot Dead By Militants In J&K

Police claim 13 terrorists have been killed in Jammu and Kashmir in nine encounters over the last nine days.

In Ongoing Poonch Encounter, Bodies Of Two Missing Soldiers Recovered, Toll Rises To Nine

In Ongoing Poonch Encounter, Bodies Of Two Missing Soldiers Recovered, Toll Rises To Nine

According to the Army, the bodies of a jawan and the JCO were recovered during the search operation on October 16.

SAFF 2021: Chhetri Equals Messi Feat As India Thrash Nepal To Win 8th Title

SAFF 2021: Chhetri Equals Messi Feat As India Thrash Nepal To Win 8th Title

India crushed Nepal 3-0 to win their 8th SAFF title, thanks to goals from Sunil Chhetri, Suresh Wangjam and Sahal Abdul Samad.

Kerala: Six Dead, 12 Missing As Heavy Rains Cause Flash Floods And Landslides

Kerala: Six Dead, 12 Missing As Heavy Rains Cause Flash Floods And Landslides

Several people have been injured and displaced. Dams in many districts are nearing full capacity. Small towns and villages in the hilly areas are totally cut off.

Advertisement