Television Ratings-Will the Industry Scare Help Focus on the Real Issues?

IN Media Practice | 19/04/2002
TRPs could be more accurate than what the system reflects now

TRPs could be more accurate than what the system reflects now. In the wake of revelations over the confidentiality of the lists, hastening the merger will help, and in any can both agencies now need to work in tandem to restore the credibility of the rating systems in quick time.

Advertising agencies also now know that they have not been sufficiently vigilant in Being watchdogs of a system on which thousands of crores of rupees worth of investments ride. Apparently, committees which comprise agency officials and rating agencies have not met in months. As long at the TRP data kept coming, nobody questioned the system.

So much for ratings and what they spell for the fortunes of broadcasters and advertising agencies.

A website like The Hoot however is primarily concerned with the public service aspects of the whole business of TV ratings. There are two aspects to this. One is that the over-dependence on viewership ratings is leading to an erosion of diversity in programming. Only formula programmes with mass appeal are finding favour with advertisers who do not want to take chances with betting on audiences. With over a hundred channels on offer to viewers in the countries of the sub-continent, the number of programmes devoted to cultural fare that is not film based, and public service programmes that educate as well as entertain, can be counted on the fingers of two hands. May be even one hand! The ratings game, thus, is detrimental to diversity and choice.

The second aspect is that in countries where both television and television audience measurement is established, the ratings debate currently is not over accuracy of measurement. It is over using an advanced system of television ratings to guide audiences on which categories of programmes are wholesome enough for their children to watch. With the Clinton administration mandating that the television industry must install V chips to enable parents to decide which categories of programmes were child friendly, the TV industry had to come up with programme ratings to match. This was in the late nineties. The Federal Communications Commission kept a watch on this aspect of ratings. In fact, recently in the US sex and violence in entertainment were the subjects of a Senate committee hearing that focused on evaluating and improving entertainment ratings systems.

Today those TV and advertising companies who keep the ratings system alive in India, do so entirely for their own commercial interest. But with television playing an enormous role in the lives of the people of the sub-continent, the time has to come when the industry unites to evolve ratings that serve more altruistic purposes. That is, ratings which have to do with categorising the programming families watch. Perhaps our law makers need to get into the act to force this to happen.

Further readings on the Net

At there are several reports on the repercussions of the leaked households lists.



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