While the TRP committee report awaits comments from broadcasters and BARC India, experts, divided among stakeholders, find it nothing more than an academic research paper devoid of any practical solution.
“The recommendations provide no practical solution, rather they read like an academic research paper,” a senior broadcast industry executive said on condition of anonymity.
The report prepared by the committee headed by the CEO of Prasar Bharati, Shashi Shekhar Vempati, recommends to “strengthen corporate governance and change the structure of BARC India”, “strengthen technical oversight of BARC India”, “Return Path Data (RPD) ”,“ curb health problems in business practices ”and“ create competition with BARC India ”.
Experts believe that the government-appointed committee has not delved into the issues facing the industry, nor conducted appropriate industry-wide consultation to understand them.
According to a senior executive, holding a senior position in one of the broadcasting organizations, the report is only an endorsement of TRAI’s recommendations with some suggested changes in the policy guidelines for TV rating agencies in India.
Experts said that although the committee wants to strengthen the technical oversight of BARC India, move to Return Path Data (RPD) and create competition with BARC India, it is not suggesting how these initiatives are going to be funded, while it is acquired that this would involve a large sum of money.
Under the current system, only IBDF has invested in BARC India.
The stakeholders for whom ratings matter most are advertisers and their industry bodies.
“However, the two major advertising agencies have not paid or invested anything in BARC but have found stakes and management control because of the guidelines. Government officials don’t even know these things,” an official said. television, on condition of anonymity.
Sharing whether the recommendations of the government-appointed committee will make a difference, a media agency official said: “Advertisers think the government has nothing to do with ratings because it’s between them and the audience. diffusers. Although they knew that only the IBDF had invested in the audience measurement body, news stations continue to complain about BARC to the government and the regulator, but they do not tell the real story behind the formation and operation of BARC. The government does not want to know either. “
Another executive in the broadcasting industry said that if the committee thinks there should be an alternative to BARC, it should also explain how it should be formed and who would fund it.
“Whatever recommendations are made, it ultimately comes down to the money. Where will the money come from? Of all the shareholders, only the broadcasters are ready to invest,” he added.
The report also mentions some “invisible barriers” that hinder the creation of competition for BARC India. The report, however, does not mention what these obstacles are.
Another TV executive said the recommendation to set up a competition for BARC makes no sense because no one wants to invest in acquiring new technology for the existing organization, let alone funding a new currency. of measurement.
Asked about “invisible barriers,” the executive said, “No one is preventing a company from establishing a BARC-like organization. Although the BARC guidelines need to change, according to which only industry associations can form a rating body. The IBDF has already formed one with other stakeholders. Some other industry associations will need to take the lead. Now, which industry association will invest so much money? “
“The other question is whether advertisers will consider this a reliable rating. If they don’t, then what’s the point of setting up another rating agency. If private actors are allowed to create a rating agency, they tend to increase the ratings of their channels, ”he added.
“When the government asked BARC to increase the number of meters, it was IBDF that came to the rescue and quadrupled the investment. It was then the CEO of Star India, Uday Shankar, who paid Rs 16 crore instead of Rs 4 crore, then Zee TV, Viacom18 and Sony Pictures Networks have also increased their budgets. The government must realize that it is a very capital intensive sector, “he added.
The report states that several currencies exist only in the United States and Brazil, and these countries have higher percentages of people counters.
“Now the two countries have had rating systems for about 50 years. While BARC is only about six years old,” another broadcast industry executive said.
The report talks in detail about the return path data, but fails to standardize the method of data collection and make the necessary investments to upgrade the infrastructure.
As previously reported by BestMediaInfo.com, some DTH and DPO operators are already selling this data to individual broadcasters for a hefty price.
“This informal model can lead to a number of confusing data currencies and could end up becoming another source of income for operators without bringing any major benefit to the industry as a whole,” said an industry observer. .