So, no one killed news television ratings: Ring a bell?

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News: Suspension of news TV ratings is illogical. It would lead to a severe loss of credibility and revenue for the news genre. The ratings need to be restored at the earliest.

Why the news rating suspension is not justified? 

Firstly, if the suspension was because of some case of television rating point (TRP) adulteration in Mumbai, then why did the suspension not apply to non-news channels.

Secondly, if the issues were Sample-size inadequacy, then channels that have even smaller samples than for news are not stopped. For example, English special-interest channels.

Even if the above-said issues (TRP adulteration & Sample-size inadequacy), are the reasons for stalling news TV ratings, there are solutions to address these issues.

What are the suggestions that could make BARC data malpractice (if any)-proof?

First, the raw data collected programmatically by BARC should be parallelly stored in the safe custody of an independent body like the Indian Statistical Institute, or the like, outside BARC control. This will ensure that such raw data stays as it is, tamper-proof, for any future reference.

Second, all interference in data analysis, like eliminating any exception or aberration, should be done under a transparent and uniform standard operating procedure. It should be available for an audit review.

Three, the sample homes should be audited and rotated periodically to ensure that they offer a fair representation of the country’s TV-watching population.

Four, Sampling inadequacy can be addressed if minute-by-minute data is not collected for low-viewership genres. If the sample applies to the entire day/week/month, the inadequacy of its size could easily be dealt with.

Five, data ratings should be done on a monthly rolling average, so that TRPs are used only as a tool to measure advertising potential and do not adulterate journalistic content.

Source: This post is based on the article “So, no one killed news television ratings: Ring a bell?” published in Livemint on 24th Dec 2021.

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