The Despotism of TRP | UPSC

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IASbhai Daily Editorial Hunt | 13th Oct 2020

It is never too late to be what you might have been.– George Eliot

Dear Aspirants
IASbhai Editorial Hunt is an initiative to dilute major Editorials of leading Newspapers in India which are most relevant to UPSC preparation –‘THE HINDU, LIVEMINT , INDIAN EXPRESS’ and help millions of readers who find difficulty in answer writing and making notes everyday. Here we choose two editorials on daily basis and analyse them with respect to UPSC MAINS 2020-21.

EDITORIAL HUNT #185 :“The Despotism of TRP | UPSC

The Despotism of TRP | UPSC

Srivatsa Krishna
The Despotism of TRP | UPSC

Srivatsa Krishna is an IAS officer.

      HEADLINES:

The tyranny of TRPs

      CENTRAL THEME:

Who should regulate channels and how should they be regulated?

SYLLABUS COVERED: GS 3: Information : Communication : Technology

      MAINS QUESTION:

TRP system lately has been outdated.Why can’t India come up with connected bar-o-meters when almost everything is now down to digital. Comment -(GS 3)

      LEARNING: 

  • Self Regulations
  • TRP and its nature
  • The Way Forward

      INTRODUCTION: 

Nothing can better describe the current TRP (target rating points) controversy better than cat and mice race .

SELF REGULATION

  • UNDERSTANDING ECOSYSTEM : Before understanding the controversy, nay scam, let’s understand the ecosystem at play.
  • JUDGES : The judges believe that they can self-regulate better than the National Judicial Appointments Commission ever can.
  • JOURNALIST :  The media, especially television media, swears by self-regulation.
  • CIVIL SERVANTS : Energy regulators are mostly parking places for retired civil servants, few of whom have the guts to implement genuine ‘open access’ or tariff fixation.
  • BUSINESS GROUND : Today TV is perhaps the single biggest window of entry into any home for any business.
  • VIEWERSHIP : About 760 million-800 million individuals view TV in India per week.
  • MARKET PENETRATION : While TV penetration in rural India is about 52%, in urban India it is about 87%.
  • DTH SERVICE : DTH (Direct to Home) is used by about 70 million-80 million households.
  • CABLE SERVICE : Cable is used by 60 million, and terrestrial by about 10 million-20 million households.
  • WATCH TIME : About 550 million individuals tune into the TV daily and spend roughly 3.45 hours per day watching TV.

The industry boasts of more than 800 channels across various genres.

  • REVENUE : Of the total revenue of about ₹66,000 crore, about 40% is attributable to advertising and 60% to distribution and subscription services.
  • ADVERTISING MARKET : India’s total advertising market is $10 billion-$12 billion, of which digital advertising is about $2 billion, according to Dentsu in 2020.

      BODY: 

THE NATURE OF THE GAME

  • EXPLOITATION : What channels are not admitting is that the TRP system has been rigged for many moons now, by the channels themselves.

That is the nature of the game. Channels cannot play the game without rigging the system.

  • OLD METHOD : In the TAM (Television Audience Measurement) and INTAM (Indian National Television Audience Measurement) days, motorcycle riders used to be sent to follow those from TAM to retrieve data/install meters and identify ‘confidential homes’.
  • LOBBYING : Those homes would be given a new plasma TV, in vogue those days.
  • INCREASING WATCH TIME : In those households, a particular channel would be turned on and put on mute on the new TV.
  • RATING POINTS : Needless to say, TAM and INTAM gave different ratings reports to suit different clients.
  • MERGER : Soon, they discovered that it was best to have the cake and eat it too, so they merged.
  • NEW ORGANISATION : When BARC (Broadcast Audience Research Council) came about, it took over the flawed TAM meters which are now said to constitute about a third of its own metering.
  • IRRATIONAL STATS : To make sense of the fact that about 22,000 bar-o-meters (or 44,000 households) are used to distribute digital advertising goodies worth about ₹25,000 crore sounds absurd.
  • BAR-O-METER  : So, a back-of-the-envelope, and not scientific, bar-o-meter equals approximately ₹1 crore of ad revenue, though the geographical coverage is tiny.

There are other goodies for media-buying agencies in the form of fees, commissions, kickbacks, both over and under the table.

  • DEVOLUTION : Even a cursory glance at the balance sheets of the top agencies would reveal these staggering amounts.
  • BETTER RATING SYSTEM : It is no wonder that no advertising agency worth its salt wants to upset the applecart and look at a ‘better’ rating system.
  • SELF RELIANCE : In today’s world of hyper-connectivity ,we are not self-reliant enough to manufacture bar-o-meters connected to the Internet securely .
  • TRANSPARENCY : That way, measurement would be continuous and transparent instead of being discrete, periodic, and tamperable.
  • PRIVACY : Netflix and YouTube not only know what you watched and how long you watched it, but also what else you may like and what you may ignore.

      IASbhai Windup: 

THE WAY FORWARD

Ofcom or the Federal Communications Commission, the two main independent regulators in the U.K. and the U.S.,respectively, they consist usually of government-appointed officials along with distinguished members from the corporate world.

  • INTERDEPENDENT SOLUTION : But in India, we all disagree on what constitutes ‘independent’.
  • APPOINTING REGULATOR : If a government of a particular ideology appoints a regulator, it will be almost certainly deemed partisan.

So, it really comes down to this:

  • TRUST FACTOR : Who do we trust more, the private sector or the government.
  • CHOOSING AUTHORITY : Do we want BARC ‘self-regulation’ or an independent authority established by a constitutionally elected government?

This opens up a Pandora’s box on who should regulate, how they should regulate, and who should regulate the regulators.

       SOURCES:   THE HINDU EDITORIAL HUNT | The Despotism of TRP | UPSC

 

TRENDING NOW : Important The Hindu Editorials 

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