Broadcasters support return of RPD in BARC measurement module

In their response, they also vouch for an increase in sample homes

MUMBAI: Broadcasters have shown unified support towards the need to improve the current audience measurement technique used by the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC).

In their responses to the multiple queries that TRAI had put forth in a consultation paper broadcasters—ABP News Network, Sony Pictures Network, and Discovery Communications India-have contended that the introduction of Return Path Data (RPD) vide digital set-top boxes (STB) will improve the measurement process. They also noted that raw data should be provided to the broadcasters as it will help them in improving their efficiency.

Another point raised by the broadcasters is that there should be an increase in the number of sample homes used for collecting data. Discovery Communications India noted, “All STBs should facilitate RPD technology, however, the same can be considered to be done in phases. The additional cost would only be limited to include the requisite software and hardware to support the technology.”

However, the broadcasters did not propose any change in the stakeholding pattern of BARC. Currently, IBF has 60 per cent shareholding while the ISA and AAAI hold 20 per cent each in BARC. They also declined the need to introduce competition in the viewership measurement domain. Discovery Communications India stated that it would lead to chaos and duplication of data while Sony Pictures Networks said it will lead to skewing of results to the convenience of a few stakeholders.

Responding to the query if DPOs should be mandated to facilitate the collection of viewership data, broadcasters differed. While ABP News Network denied the possibility completely stating that it might lead to data tampering, Discovery Communications India supported the idea saying, “As the subscriber data is already available with them hence it would make the process time efficient and the process easier in toto.”

Sony Pictures said, “In order for the data collection process to be fair, neutral and immune from any bias, all interested parties including DPOs should be kept outside of the process. However, if DPOs are mandated to roll out hybrid STBs or RPD technology to capture viewership data for greater reach resulting the data should directly reach BARC or else there could be scope for manipulation as discussed above (DPO to act as a pure pass-through). Hence, stringent technology and security checks should be deployed to ensure that the data is not manipulated.”

In addition to this, Sony Pictures also asked for the draft Personal Data Protection Bill 2018, proposed by the Justice Srikrishna Committee, to be complied with to ensure the privacy of individual information while data collection for viewership counts.

TRAI had released the said consultation paper in December last year, seeking responses of the various stakeholders to several pertinent questions related to TV viewership measurement. The consultation was a result of various stakeholder meetings asking to improve the existing BARC mentoring format. The last date to file the responses was extended by a month to 2 February on 28 December 2018.

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