DPOs must get representation in BARC India, Tata Sky tells TRAI

MUMBAI: Direct to home (DTH) operator Tata Sky has submitted to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) that the distribution platform operators (DPOs) must get representation in the Broadcasters Audience Research Council (BARC) India.

“Ideally, the BARC shareholding body, presently comprising of Broadcasters, Advertisers & Agencies should also include members representing the DPO/DTH platform body too,” Tata Sky said in its submission on consultation paper ‘Review of Television Audience Measurement and Ratings in India’.

BARC India is a joint industry having representation from broadcasters, media agencies, and advertisers. The Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF) holds 60% stake in BARC while the remaining 40% is split equally between Advertising Agencies Association of India (AAAI) and Indian Society of Advertisers (ISA).

The DTH operator also said that BARC is not transparent regarding sharing the methodology and the representation of the panel home amongst the various platform types.

It also argued in favour of encouraging multiple rating agencies. “The underlying policy framework should allow for multiple rating agencies. Competition would bring in new technologies, new research methodologies, new methods in analysis, new and better ways to ensure better data quality,” it stated.

Tata Sky also said that there is an under representation of DTH customers amongst the existing panel homes and BARC has taken no steps to publish a list for transparency. It also noted that the representation of HD homes also needs correction.

TV ratings, it stated, should be based on a sample which should be representative of the industry based on Town and Town Class i.e. DAS 1, DAS 2, DAS 3, DAS 4 and SEC A, B & C and technologies (DTH, Cable, IPTV etc.). All segments of consumption whether demographic or technology should be captured.

Tata Sky also said that BARC should share the raw level data, after suitably anonymising it to securely mask the identity of the individual household. “It should be available to any subscriber (including DPO’s) who wishes to subscribe to it at a nominal cost.”

While stating that the current reporting of BARC is limited, the DTH operator stated that additional levels of reporting are required including DAS wise – Phase I, II, III, IV; Definition wise –SD/HD; Platform wise – Cable, DD Free Dish, DTH (Operator wise); More sample at each population strata so that we can get data at city (top cities) level too; NCCS detailed cuts (12 cuts); LC1 (50K-1L); and LC1 (<50K).

Multi system operator (MSO) GTPL Hathway also stated that the current shareholding pattern doesn’t represent all stakeholders as it leaves out DPOs and content producers who are also part of the value chain.

“It can be argued that BARC is basically ‘controlled by those who the system is rating’, with broadcasters having a controlling stake. Being a measurement system, primarily for an ad-dependent TV industry, it appears to be open to manipulation by broadcasters,” the MSO said in its submission.

The MSO is not in favour of having more than one rating agency by contending that more television ratings agencies are allowed to compete then the sample size will reduce and might even get scattered demographically. “Therefore to ensure transparency and accuracy, there is no need for competition in the television rating services,” it stated.

GTPL also stated that BARC should measure cross-platform viewership. It also stated that BARC India’s inability to distinguish between regular viewership and viewership of a landing channel is a major concern for the DPOs as well as the broadcasters.

It also stated that BARC should collect distribution-platform-wise (DTH, MSO, IPTV, HITS, Free Dish) viewership data to measure viewership demographically, based on the presence of such platforms across India, as a separate category and the report should also be published separately.

The MSO has submitted that the total sample size of panel households needs to be increased to 0.1% of the total TV households. In our view the panel size should be divided between urban, semi-urban and rural India as a ratio of the total TV households.

The Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) has stated that the IBF has a greater say in the functioning of BARC due to its majority ownership. However, globally, higher percentage of revenue is contributed by media owners.

IAMAI also said that the industry should periodically conduct studies to arrive at broad parameters such as Reach, profile of viewers of specific channel etc. and compare the same with BARC findings.

A third party should also conduct co-incidental studies to ensure that the show & channel reach are in line with BARC’s reporting. The outcomes of such studies should be shared with the stakeholders to ensure that they are involved in the steps taken to improve the currency constantly.

It also suggested having two currencies, one based on people meter and the other based on return path data (RPD) to take care of TV, Digital & IPTV measurement based on RPD.