THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 13 October 2020 The tyranny of TRPs (The Hindu)

The tyranny of TRPs (The Hindu)

Mains Paper 3: Science and Tech 
Prelims level: Target rating points
Mains level: Developments and their applications and effectsin everyday life


  • Before understanding the controversy, let’s understand the ecosystem at play.
  • In India, no one wants to be regulated. The judges believe that they can self-regulate better than the National Judicial Appointments Commission ever can.
  • The media, especially television media, swears by self-regulation.
  • Energy regulators are mostly parking places for retired civil servants, few of whom have the guts to implement genuine ‘open access’ or tariff fixation.

 Television penetration:

  • Today TV is perhaps the single biggest window of entry into any home for any business. About 760 million-800 million individuals view TV in India per week.
  • While TV penetration in rural India is about 52%, in urban India it is about 87%.
  • Of this DTH (Direct to Home) is used by about 70 million-80 million households, cable is used by 60 million, and terrestrial by about 10 million-20 million households.
  • About 550 million individuals tune into the TV daily and spend roughly 3.45 hours per day watching TV.
  • The industry boasts of more than 800 channels across various genres.
  • Of the total revenue of about ?66,000 crore, about 40% is attributable to advertising and 60% to distribution and subscription services.
  • India’s total advertising market is $10 billion-$12 billion, of which digital advertising is about $2 billion, according to Dentsu in 2020.

 The nature of the game:

  • What channels are not admitting is that the TRP system has been rigged for many moons now, by the channels themselves. That is the nature of the game.
  • Channels cannot play the game without riggingthe system.
  • In the TAM (Television Audience Measurement) and INTAM (Indian National Television Audience Measurement) days, motorcycle riders used to be sent to follow those from TAM to retrieve data/install meters and identify ‘confidential homes’.
  • Those homes would be given a new plasma TV, in vogue those days. In those households, a particular channel would be turned on and put on mute on the new TV.
  • And the people in the house would continue watching whatever they wanted to on their regular TV sets.
  • Needless to say, TAM and INTAM gave different ratings reports to suit different clients.
  • Soon, they discovered that it was best to have the cake and eat it too, so they merged.
  • When BARC (Broadcast Audience Research Council) came about, it took over the flawed TAM meters which are now said to constitute about a third of its own metering.

Way forward:

  • If you take Ofcom or the Federal Communications Commission, the two main independent regulators in the U.K. and the U.S., respectively, they consist usually of government-appointed officials along with distinguished members from the corporate world.
  • But in India, we all disagree on what constitutes ‘independent’.
  • If a government of a particular ideology appoints a regulator, it will be almost certainly deemed partisan.
  • So, it really comes down to this: who do we trust more, the private sector or the government?
  • Do we want BARC ‘self-regulation’ or an independent authority established by a constitutionally elected government?
  • This opens up a Pandora’s box on who should regulate, how they should regulate, and who should regulate the regulators.
  • The hype will end soon, but it looks like nothing is going to change, for ‘Hamaammein sab nangehain’.
  • Nothing can better describe the current TRP (target rating points) controversy better than the Hindi proverb ‘Hamaammein sab nangehain (Everyone is naked in a public bath)’.

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Prelims Questions:

Q.1)With reference to the Age Appropriate Fitness Protocols, consider the following statements:
1. It was launched on the occasion of the first anniversary of the Fit India Movement.
2. Age Appropriate Fitness Protocols have been envisaged for three age groups: 5 – 18, 18 – 65 and above 65.
Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
(a) 1 only
(b) 2 only
(c) Both 1 and 2
(d) Neither 1 nor 2

Answer: C

Mains Questions:

Q.1)Define TRP. How the TRP is calculated? What is the manipulation of TRP?