The Broadcasters Audience Research Council (BARC) of India has come up with its counter-arguments on the consultation paper ‘Review of Television Audience Measurement and Ratings in India’ by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) which was presented by the many stakeholders. The BARC has noted that in the entire consultation paper, some of the submissions made by the authority are identical and have motivation against the interest and functioning of the audience research council.
BARC Says Council Manipulation is a Legacy Issue in this Industry
On the issue of adequate panel size, the counter comments by BARC said the panel expansion is solely dependent on the industry bearing the additional costs in acquiring the same. BARC also said that exploration of Sample Return Path Data (SRPD) technology which would collect data, will involve all relevant stakeholders who would have to update the software in their Set Top Boxes (STBs) and while doing that ensure privacy in homes.
As per BARC, panel manipulation is a legacy issue of audience measurement industry for the past 10-15 years, and it added that the solution lies in the way of bringing in separate penal provisions and related legislation by the Government. The council also said that the efficiency, integrity, and privacy of the audience measurement data could be preserved through the current metering methodology and SRPD solutions. “However, BARC India constantly explores the possibility of new technologies and tools to further strengthen its systems and processes,” it stated.
BARC also added that the previous comments made on the consultation paper already clarify these points. The council said regarding this, “We hereby reiterate our position taken earlier in the comments submitted by us and hereby provides its counter comments to specifically address the comments received under the consultation paper. BARC India hereby reserves its right to file additional counter comments/rejoinder to counter comments/file clarification if required.”
BARC India Says Yes to Audit by Third Parties
On being posed with the question, BARC also said that it has successfully been able to accomplish its purpose of setting up with transparency and without any bias. It is worth noting that BARC India ships its raw level data (RLD) to media agencies in a secure manner ensuring that no Personally Identifiable Information (PII) of any member of the panel is revealed to the agency and seek prior permission from the authorities to release RLD to broadcasters. The council also said that it is open to the idea of an audit by third parties.
BARC in its submission said, “When there are more than one data sets for a same set of channels, it leads to ambiguity. Hence, it is not desirable to have more than one rating agency.” It further added that the representativeness of a sample is not very stringently linked to sample size but also it is a carefully constructed and designed survey plan.
BARC finally said, “BARC India has initiated Sample Return Path Data (SRPD) based viewership measurement as a cost-effective technology to add to the current meter-based measurement. However, rapid and effective implementation of SRPD requires regulatory support from Trai and Government.”
The council also said that DPOs must be mandated to collect viewership data from their set-top boxes (STBs) and the transference should be made under a secure governance and technology environment to the measurement authority, and this would be in the interest of the industry.