TRP Scam: In the Race of TRP, Are Channels Leaving News Behind?

1-BREAKING-NEWS

You might have heard the TRP word many times. If you are a TV audience, you might have idea what TRP is all about. We often talk that the TRP of a channel or show is high or the TRP of a channel or show is low. It is used to measure the usage of the channels over a period of time. TRP is used to index the choices of viewers. It tells us that which news, reality or entertainment program or channels be it news, sports, movies, or any other channel, people are viewing the most. Television media and TRP are complimentary words. In this article, we will try to understand about this measure and the latest TRP scam making the headlines.

Recently a ‘fake TRP’ scam has became a hot topic of discussion. Name of some renowned news channels are involved in this TRP scam . This claim accused Republic TV for purchasing TRP. The Mumbai Police Commissioner Parambir Singh made this allegation on Republic TV. To know about the ‘Fake TRP’ case first we have to understand the term TRP.

What is TRP? What is the method to calculate TRP?

Television Rating Point (TRP) or Target Rating Point is a method to track the popularity and viewership of a channel or program. To measure the frequency of channels calculation of TRP is required. TRP tells us about the duration of a channel that is being watched by different viewers. We can say that the channel with highest TRP is the most-watched channel. TRP gives a rating to the TV channels and tells us about its popularity. It helps in deciding the cost of the channels and these channels set their profit according to the measured TRP. To put it in simple words, high TRP means more profit and low TRP means low profit.

Usually, a device to a TV set is connected to calculate TRP. Agencies calculate TRP by conducting survey on a few thousand households as a sample. After connecting the device or meter, when people watch television in their house, then the concerned authorities get to know what the TRP of a channel or program is. Basis of deciding the TRP is which channel or program is more popular and for how much time over a particular period or how frequently audiences watch a show or channel.People meter and picture making are the two major methods of calculating TRPs.

Manipulation of TRP:

Out of more than 1.3 billion population of India, about 20 crores people have TV or cable connections. The agencies take only a few thousands connections among this audience for sampling. That’s why the TRP data that we get through sampling on a few households do not give a clear picture. So, it becomes easy for channel operators to bribe those households where the meter is connected to watch their channel. Thus, they can easily manipulate the TRP data if channel persons get to know where the devices are installed. They can ask the cable operators or multi-system operators to make sure that their channel would be the first channel on the screen of the viewers.

The latest TRP scam

In the latest case of manipulation of TRP, Mumbai Police found three channels to be guilty of fixing TRP. According to the alleged charges, the involved channels gave bribes to viewers to watch their channels. These three alleged channels are Republic TV, Fakt Marathi and Box Cinemas.

Accusation On Fake TRP Scam:

Many newsreaders or channel persons caught red-handed while giving bribe for manipulating the TRP. Bribing the households people for purchasing the TRP is not new in India. In the aggressive competition every channel wants to be on top. So, they rigged the TRP and falsified the collected data. Nowadays Republic TV is in the bright lime light because of its way of telecasting the news among the audience. Mumbai’s Police Commissioner states in an interview that three news channels are involved in fake TRP scandal. Republic TV is one of the TV channels from the alleged 3 channels. Police Commissioner said that the owner of the channel has purchased the TRP and that’s why it is in the first position in the race of TRP.

Defence of Republic TV:

The owner and editor of the Republic TV, Mr Arnab Goswami denied accusations. He told people through his channel that his channel is the only channel which is presenting the proper facts and figures in regarding the death case of actor Sushant Singh Rajput (SSR). This is why the Maharashtrian government is trying of destroy his career image by making wrong allegations.

Reactions on Fake TRP Scam:

After the allegation, other news channel started criticizing the Republic TV. Some news channels (who are competing with Republic TV in TRP race) even state that Republic TV should not be considered as a news channel. In situation like this, the common viewer faces the real problem. He does not know that on which channel he will get an authentic information. People are paying for the channels but incidents like this betray the trust of people.

Some advertising agencies also excluded their ads from news channel. They decided to ban the ads of their product because they do not want to sell their product on such noxious channels. The head of Parle company said that they will not advertise their product on the channels where content is toxic. Bajaj Auto’s managing director Rajiv Bajaj also declared that their company has blacklisted the alleged 3 channels.

On the other hand, some agencies are not in the mood to ban their ads just because of allegations. They believed that if a channel proved guilty then they will boycott it. Agencies said that just based on unproven accusations, such decisions could not be taken. It will cause a huge loss to the channels and even agencies.

What is the relation between TRP and advertisement?

High TRP is an indication of large number of viewers watching a show or channel. This gives the advertisers an opportunity to reach to more people and increasing visual presence of their products. Thus, TRP helps the advertisers in deciding on which channel what type of advertisement would be shown. Advertising agencies divides TRP data according to the socio-economic condition of people . Eventually, companies and agencies use this data to target audience for their products by displaying advertisements on television.

According to this division, Agencies estimates that how many people belongs to the upper income, middle income, lower income and financially weaker section. The data also tells us that which section had watched which channel and programs for how much duration. After analyzing all these criteria, advertisers show related adds to the different sections of households. Advertising agencies give handsome amount of money to the channels having high TRPs for allowing their screen space or visual space or screen time to show their ads.

For example, some channels re-telecast old shows like Ramayan, Mahabharat, Sri Krishna during lockdown. These show were among the top in the TRP list. It means more people watched these programs in comparison to other programs. In fact, iconic Ramayan created the global record of being the most-watched entertainment program with 7.7 crore viewers in the month of April, garnering large amount of advertisement for Doordarshan.

Why TRP has been manipulated all the time?

The manipulation of TRP is there, for increasing the profit of a particular channel or producers. Earlier Doordarshan was the only major channel. The news was shown on TV was for only a limited time period. As time was limited to telecast news, only important news was shown. After the privatisation of news channels, a race has started among different channels. In this blind chase to getting the high TRP, channels are competing to be on the first position by hook or by crook. And actual news is left behind since content creators and presenters focus on sensationalizing the news.

This started a cold war among the news channels and their focus has shifted to showing sensational news leaving the actual or important news behind. The channels are so engrossed in the competition that they forgot to pay attention to the quality of their content. A similar thing happened in Sushant Singh Rajput (SSR) case. Every news channel started flashing headlines related to the SSR case on TV. Because of this, other important topics were neglected. Many renowned industry experts criticized the level of journalism. The remote of the TV is still in the hands of the viewer but he/she will only have to watch what will be shown on TV by channel operators.

How BARC regulates TRP?

Broadcast Audio Research Council is a joint industry that is in charge to manage the affairs of television and advertisements. Different stakeholders like the Indian Society of Advertisers, Indian Broadcasting Foundation, Advertising and Media Agencies owned BARC. It was launched in April 2015 with the TV viewership measurement service under some guidelines. BARC’s main aim is to check and maintain fairness and accuracy in the field of television.

BARC filled the complaints regarding TRP scams from time to time. These complaints are sometimes related to the TRP set up and sometimes to the number of meters or devices. BARC has to face constant criticisms because of these complaints. Sensation of this news forced BARC to take an action against the latest fraud of Fake TRP. BARC suspended the ratings of TRP of all English, Hindi, Regional and Business news channels. Now, BARC also decided to change the set of rules. In the new parameters BARC would stop declaring the individual ratings of news channels. But after an experiment of around 8 to 12 weeks this change would be incorporated .

Government suggestions to BARC:

Only around forty thousand households get meters for survey, in order to measure TRP for over twenty crore television viewers. It is true that we cannot identify the popularity of a channel by just sampling on a few households. The government has asked BARC to install nearly 55,000 meters by 2021. Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has recommended BARC to increase number of TRP-measuring devices from 60,000 to 100,000 by 2022. Increasing these sampling sizes might not give a clear idea about the popularity but yes it may reduce the chances of TRP fixing. The TV channels may face problems in bribing such a large amount of household people for setting up the TRPs of their channels. Thus, this may reduce the TRP scam.

Note: For facts and data related with TRP you can access to BARC’s official website by clicking on the following link-

https://www.barcindia.co.in/data-insights

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