Regulators

Trai proposes radio audience measurement on lines of Barc

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NEW DELHI: The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has come out with a set of recommendations on radio audience measurement (Ram) in India setting limits on ownership of stakeholders in the ratings agency, but there is no limit on the number of such agencies.

In a preface, the regulator said there is a need to prescribe ?a soft touch, conducive, forward looking, growth oriented framework? for Ram, which protects the interests of all stakeholders.

The guidelines for rating agencies will be notified by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) based on the recommendations of Trai and there will be no ceiling on the number of rating agencies.

Trai has a recommendatory role on such issues as final decisions rest with nodal ministries like MIB, Department of Telecoms (DoT) and Department of Space (DoS). In the past, many recommendations of the regulator had not been implemented at all or done so partially by the Ministry concerned.

The Ram proposed guidelines mandatorily cover registration, eligibility norms, cross-holdings, methodology for conducting radio rating, complaint redressal, sale and use of ratings, audit, disclosure, reporting requirements and penal provisions for rating agencies.

This will be very similar to the existing policy guidelines for television rating agencies issued by MIB under which Barc operates.

Trai suggested the ratings agency should have adequate and equal representation from the three associations concerned -- Association of Radio Operators for India (AROI), Indian Society of Advertisers (ISA) and Advertising Agencies Association of India (AAAI).

The salient features of the TRAI recommendations are as follows:

(i)Guidelines for rating system to be notified by MIB.

(ii)Any agency meeting eligibility conditions can apply and get registered with MIB for doing the rating work. No cap on number of rating agencies has been prescribed.

(iii)All rating agencies, including industry led body are required to comply with the guidelines.

(iv)Guidelines to cover registration, eligibility norms, cross-holding, methodology for conducting rating, complaint redressal, sale and use of ratings, audit, disclosure, reporting requirements and penal provisions.

(v)Voluntary code of conduct by the industry for maintaining secrecy and privacy of the listeners included in the rating process.

(vi)Restrictions on ?substantial equity holding of 10% or more? between rating agencies and broadcasters/advertisers/advertising agencies have been prescribed.

(vii)The rating agency to set up an effective complaint redressal system.

(viii)Data/reports generated by the rating agency to be made available to all interested stakeholders in a transparent and equitable manner.

(ix)The rating agency to get its entire methodology/processes audited internally on quarterly basis and through an independent auditor annually. All audit reports to be put on the website of the rating agency.

(x)Penal provisions for non-compliance of guidelines.

Since All India Radio (AIR) has a large geographical and population coverage and is not a member of AROI, representation of AIR should be ensured in the technical committee formed within the industry led body for guiding and supervising various radio rating processes.

Trai said in its report that once guidelines are issued and implemented by MIB, these will be made applicable to all the rating agencies including the industry-led body.

An independent rating agency, carrying out the rating process, can also outsource the field work, data collection and processing to third parties. The guidelines will not be applicable to the entities which have been contracted to carry out the field work, data collection and processing.

At present, radio audience measurement in India is conducted by AIR and TAM Media Research.

The full TRAI recommendation can be obtained at http://www.trai.gov.in/WriteReadData/WhatsNew/Documents/Recommendations_15_September_2016.pdf

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