MUMBAI: The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI)
is once again showing it means business. It has come
out with its final recommendations on what should serve
as guidelines to put in place a transparent, credible
and reliable television ratings process in India. These
recommendations have been made after the consultation
paper which was first issued by the authority on 17
April 2013. The consultation paper had then called for
comments from various stakeholders after which an open
house was held on 1 July.
The problems surrounding the television rating system
was raised by the Information & Broadcasting Ministry
(MIB) in January 2008. It was then that the authority
recommended the adoption of self regulation through
the industry led body The Broadcast Audience Research
Based on these discussions with the various stakeholders,
the TRAI has come up with its own analysis and recommendations
which were made public today.
Amongst the recommendation is that the MIB has to notify
the guidelines for regulating television rating agencies
based on TRAI's recommendation within two months. Any
agency wanting to offer TV viewership monitoring or
rating services has to perforce get itself registered
with the MIB if it fulfills the following guidelines:
The rating agency shall be set up and registered as
a company under the Companies Act, 1956; any member
of the board of directors of the television rating agency
should not be in the business of broadcasting/ advertising/advertising
agency; the rating agency should have a minimum net
worth of Rs 20 crore; the rating agency should also
meet the prescribed cross-holdings requirements.
TRAI has said that to keep the ratings process credible,
there should be a minimum of 20,000 panel homes which
have to be set up within six months of the guidelines
being implemented. Thereafter the number of panel homes
has to be increased by 10,000 every year until it reaches
It has recommended that it be mandatory for the industry
to observe a voluntary code of conduct for maintaining
secrecy and privacy of panel homes and that data and
reports should be made available to all stakeholders
in an equitable manner on a paid basis.
Also no single company/ legal entity, either directly
or through its associates or inter-connected undertakings,
should have substantial equity of 10 per cent or more
holding in both rating agencies and broadcasters/advertisers/
TRAI says that ratings agencies will be penalised if
they fail to follow the guidelines on cross-holding,
methodology, secrecy, privacy, audit, public disclosure
and reporting requirements. A penalty of Rs one crore
will be levied in the first instance; the second instance
will lead to the cancellation of registration.
For other guidelines, the penal provisions shall be
a graduated financial penalty of Rs 10 lakh to Rs one
crore for the first three instances of non-compliance
and, for the fourth instance, cancellation of registration.
However, TRAI says an opportunity should be given to
each party before invoking any penal provisions. Once
guidelines for rating agencies are issued by MIB, these
will have to be equally complied by all rating agencies
including new entrants.
In keeping with the fact that the existing rating agency
(TAM Media) may require some time for complying with
the guidelines, the authority has given it six months
to allow it to meet the cross-holding and panel size
It says that it would like industry to implement these
recommendations and to show that it means business it
says it will suo motu intervene in the larger public
interest if the former does not comply.
Obviously, TRAI is trying its hardest to change the
paradigm of TV ratings. Will Indian industry pay heed?
here for the complete final recommendation