One of the milestones achieved by Indian television industry in 2015 was the launch of a new ratings system under the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC), an industry body compromising broadcasters (60 per cent), advertisers (20 per cent) and media agencies (20 per cent).
The launch was hailed by many as a turning point in TV audience measurement with a more transparent process and bigger panel/sample size of people-meters in place.
However, Ravi Shankar Prasad, minister of communication and information technology, on Wednesday said the new system was also lacking in some aspects.
Addressing the inaugural session of FICCI-Frames 2016 in Mumbai, Prasad said, “I am not happy with the TV ratings system. I never approved of TAM and I am not very impressed by the new alternative either. How can a few hundred boxes tell me what show is number one? Something should be done to make the television ratings more accurate.”
BARC started releasing data last year. For around eight months, it co-existed with TAM, which had a monopoly on television ratings measurement in India. However, the two combined their resources earlier this year. And from March 1, only BARC releases television viewership data while TAM has exited the business.
The main reasons behind the formation of BARC were that broadcasters were unsatisfied with the TAM sample size (which was around 9,000 people-meters) and it did not cover rural territories.
While the Neilsen-Kantar JV finally ramped up its sample size to 12,000 people-meters last year, it was too little too late. Apart from small sample size, there were allegations regarding irregularities within TAM.
Reacting to Prasad’s observation, Partho Dasgupta, CEO, BARC India said, “We believe the minister expressed a view on improvements and changes in TV audience measurement in India with the launch of BARC India’s services. BARC India strictly follows government guidelines on the matter. We have expanded the coverage — with a doubling of sample homes to 20,000 within the first year of launch, and inclusion of rural India for the first time ever. We have plans for expanding the panel as per government guidelines too.”
“We are a joint industry body and the number of meters is guided by industry’s affordability and statistical needs. The number is as agreed by all stakeholders of the industry. Industry has welcomed and accepted BARC India data’s robustness and fidelity,” he added.