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rpd: Govt panel: Use STBs to get universal TRP data | India News


NEW DELHI: The four-member committee appointed by the government in November 2020 to review the ‘Guidelines on Television Rating Agencies in India’ year has recommended that it should be made mandatory to universalise collection of viewership information by using the ‘Return Path Data’ (RPD) technology.
Led by Prasar Bharati chief executive Shashi Shekhar Vempati, the committee was appointed in the backdrop of the ‘TRP Scam’ unearthed by the Mumbai police in October 2020, which pointed to the “fraudulent” manipulation of Television Rating Points (TRPs) by three channels – Republic TV, Fakt Marathi and Box Cinema. The report, which was shared with the Broadcast Audience Research Council India (BARC India) and all broadcaster associations on Monday, acknowledges that there has been a broad consensus among most stakeholders in favour of leveraging RPD capabilities.
Observing that the review of the Television Ratings System in India was undertaken during a period of “immense change within the media sector” and at a juncture “when the integrity of the ratings system has come under critical public scrutiny”, the committee recommended increasing competitiveness in the TV ratings space, putting in place a “specialised regulatory mechanism”, and increasing the base for TV ratings in India in line with global benchmarks.
“As a first step, the committee recommends that provision for RPD be made a mandatory capability of all future Set Top Boxes (STBs) deployed by Distributor Platform Operators so that RPD becomes a ubiquitous capability on par with encryption, conditional access and other such mandatory STB level capabilities,” the report said.
It added, “Further, all collection of viewership data by DPOs should be governed by privacy norms prescribed by the government/regulator. Additionally, the sale or sharing of such viewership data by the DPOs should be governed by the guidelines for TV rating systems.” Recommending to BARC the integration of existing RPD data within six months, the panel also batted for setting up a joint industry working group comprising stakeholders to “specify the norms for an industry-wide RPD mandate, to codify privacy protection, and to govern the sale/sharing of RPD data in a transparent manner.”
“The government may consider temporarily suspending the license to BARC India after suitably amending guidelines and issuing necessary directions to BARC India. The temporary suspension may be limited to the period till BARC India,” the report said.

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