TRAI recommends sharp hike in sample for television rating agencies, bars significant shareholding by advertisers, broadcasters

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), the nodal regulatory body for both telecom and broadcasting sectors, has recommended a significant increase in the sample of households covered by television rating agencies as against the existing universe.

This has been a bone of contention between advertisers and a handful of rating agencies.

In its recommendations to the ministry of information and broadcasting, TRAI said rating agencies should have a minimum of 20,000 panel homes for collecting viewership data and this number should increase by 10,000 every year till the figure of 50,000 is reached.

TRAI suggested that panel homes should be selected from a pool which is at least 10 times the number of panel homes for audience measurement.

The sector regulator said it supports self-regulation of television ratings through an industry led body like Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC). It also mooted a voluntary code of conduct by the industry for maintaining secrecy and privacy of the panel homes.

It also said there should not be substantial shareholding between rating agencies, broadcasters, advertisers and advertising agencies, adding that substantial be defined as equity holding of 10 per cent or more.

TRAI has asked the ministry to notify guidelines for the agencies within two months.

It said six months time should be given to the existing rating agencies to comply with the guidelines and penal provisions for non-compliance of guidelines, including financial penalty from Rs 10 lakh to Rs 1 crore and cancellation of registration.

TRAI also said agencies have to get their process audited on a quarterly basis and through an independent auditor annually.

(Edited by Joby Puthuparampil Johnson)

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