Written by Prakriti Panwar, a grade 11 student.
On October 8, 2020, the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC), paused three months audience estimates for various news channels ratings. This was done in response to the complaint filed by the BARC, through the Hansa Research Group, stating that news channels were manipulating their TRP numbers.
What are TRPs?
TRP, or Television Rating Point, is a metric used by T.V. channels to measure their popularity by keeping a record of the time for which audiences view a particular channel. TRPs are, monetarily speaking, extremely advantageous to channels as it enables them to charge higher values from advertisers – the more people watch, the higher the TRP and the more money the channel can charge for advertising (it’s all about the money!).
Recently, many well-known channels have been accused of fiddling with their TRPs. Republic TV, run by the Indian journalist Arnab Goswami, is allegedly one of the main channels involved in the scam The Mumbai Police is currently looking into the matter. Mr Param Bir Singh,commissioner of the Mumbai Police, also said in a statement that “The name of Republic channel is coming out in the investigation. It’s directors, promoters or employees are likely to be involved.”
How can one manipulate TRPs?
TRPs can be manipulated in two ways. One, by bribing the viewers to watch a particular channel. And two, by bribing the cable T.V. operators to ensure that a particular channel is the first one to be broadcasted in people’s screens.
Current status of the investigation
Along with Republic TV, other regional channels such as Fakt Marathi have been accused as well. Owners of Box Cinema and Fakt Marathi (a general entertainment channel) have already been arrested for the same.
While the interrogation continues, Republic T.V. claims the summons of their officials to be a “desperate witch hunt.” The channel also denied all allegations and said that “The Hansa complaint report served as the final nail in the coffin of lies built against Republic TV in the TRP case. The complaint neither referred to Republic TV nor made any mention of any affiliates.”
In Addition to questioning and interrogation, the Police is now investigating the bank accounts of the accused channels, along with the money they have received from various advertisers since TRP manipulation is mostly done for ‘advertising revenues’.