The guidelines for television ratings in the country will be reviewed and a committee has been formed for it, the Centre said today amid the raging row over the alleged ratings manipulation by Republic TV.
“There is a need to have a fresh look on the guidelines, particularly keeping in view the recent recommendations of Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), technological advancements/interventions to address the system and further strengthening of the procedures for a credible and transparent rating system,” the Information and Broadcasting ministry said.
The Committee will be headed by Shashi M Vempati, the chief of Prasar Bharati.
Last month, Republic TV — which claims to have the highest ratings — and two other television channels were accused of tweaking ratings to get high advertising rates, a procedure that amounts to fraud.
While Republic TV called the accusations a matter of vendetta by the Mumbai police, following their clash over the Sushant Singh Rajput case, the issue had brought attention to the flaws in the ratings system.
The Mumbai Police had said the fraud involved bribing households that were monitored by agencies that generate ratings and make it public. These agencies monitor 20,000 homes in Mumbai, placing ratings meters in them.
The households, the police said, were bribed to keep certain channels on even when they were not watching it. In each house, the people were paid Rs 400 to Rs 500 a month.
The manipulation became clear when it emerged that non-English speaking households were watching English news channels. The initial complaint was filed by Hansa, an agency that placed the ratings metres. Hansa’s data is used by BARC (Broadcast Audience Research Council), which releases weekly rating points for channels across the country.
Investigations revealed that former employees of Hansa shared confidential data with the three channels being investigated.
The Mumbai police have arrested eight people in the case and is scrutinising the financial transactions of five television channels.
The Central Bureau of Investigation is also looking into the case after a complaint was lodged in Uttar Pradesh.
Republic TV, which is often accused of bias, alleged that the Mumbai Police chief was running a campaign against the channel and demanded a CBI probe.