Mumbai police was looking into a scam about manipulation of Television Rating Point (TRP) by equipping certain devices used by Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) India, which measure television audience in India. Media, the fourth pillar of democracy has shaken to its core. The talk of "TRP Manipulation" is all over social media. The TRP scandal is not just a minor financial fraud, it's a crime. Media is legally and morally accountable for digging deeper towards the investigation of truth. Media needs to disconnect itself from manipulation and well-curtained news.
Recently, an incident rattled the complete Media Industry. A racket that involved private television channels manipulating their television rating points. Indian News Channels are racing against the meter to win the TRP game. Journalism has reduced to numbers.
WHAT IS TRP?
A television rating point is a metric used in marketing and advertising to indicate the percentage of the target audience reached by a campaign or advertisement through a communication medium. In layman's language, TRP is a device that measures how many people are watching a channel, for how many hours, and which particular channel is being watched by a number of people, for how many hours? India follows the international standard of one minute. The BARC releases weekly TRP results every Thursday ranking all TV channels and TV programmes.
In 2018, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) said, "On the basis of audience measurement data, ratings are assigned to various programmes on television. Television ratings in turn influence programmes produced for the viewers. Better ratings would promote a programme while poor ratings will discourage a programme. Incorrect ratings will lead to production of programmes which may not be really popular while good programmes may be left out."
HOW TRP IS CALCULATED?
TRP is calculated by an Indian agency, the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) using "BAR-O-meters." BARC has installed "BAR-O-meters" in over 45,000 impanelled households. Many thousands of viewers are surveyed in this way. The gadget used for recording, Bar-o-meter records the data of channels watched by families and people. This method of sampling is called people meters. The other method of sampling is known as picture matching. In this, the people meter records a tiny portion of the picture that is being watched on the television. This data is collected from all the houses across an area and then, it is analysed to calculate the TRP.
CREDIBILITY CRISIS OF INDIAN MEDIA
Rampant TRP manipulations have brought forward the issue of corruption in Indian News television networks. Recently, an english news channel fixed their television viewership and claimed leadership. All this to attract investment into advertisements at a boosted price. Will it be easy for Indian media to regain its credibility? The ratings mechanisms that determine advertising are under threat of manipulation by businessmen of news. Is the News Genre going to get impacted by this?
Media has lost touch with accountability, credibility, quality, and unbiased news. The Indian media now faces a serious crisis of credibility. If it does not bring back its credibility, the industry will cease to matter to the viewers. Journalism will then cease to be all that makes it worthy and socially relevant: an honest, investigative, analytical, public-oriented and ethical pursuit. Truth needs to be investigated and it must triumph!