The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has released its recommendations on “ Issues related to Radio Audience Measurement and ratings in India” on 21 September 2016.
Audience research has occupied the centre stage within a rapidly evolving mass communication scenario. Radio audience measurement means measurement of listenership of a radio station. Audience measurement is essential since advertising is the sole source of revenue for FM radio operators and the advertisement revenue of the radio broadcasting sector is directly linked to listenership of a radio channels.
The present system of radio ratings in India appears to have certain deficiencies that have been highlighted to TRAI by stakeholders at various forums. Continuance with an inadequate radio rating system is likely influenced by radio ratings. False and misplaced radio ratings can thus not only end affecting broadcasters and advertisers but also adversely impacting the quality of the programs being produced and aired to the public. Therefore, a need was felt to prescribe a transparent, credible and acceptable framework for the radio audience measurement.
Recommendations have been drafted after due process of consultation ending in an Open House Discussion on 18 May 2016.
The Authority has adopted a light touch approach and recommended a regulatory framework for radio rating system in India that is conductive to growth, forward looking, and addresses the concerns of the stakeholders while protecting the interests on the consumers. Under this framework, guidelines for functioning and monitoring of the radio ratings agenies will be notified by the MIB based on the recommendations of TRAI . All the rating agencies including industry led body have to adhere to these guidelines for providing rating services.
The salient features of the recommendations are:
(i) Guidelines for rating system to be notified by MIB.
(ii) Any agency meeting with the eligibility conditions can apply and get registered with MIB for doing the rating work. No cap on number of rating agencies has been prescribed.
(iii) All rating agencies including industry led body are required to comply with guidelines.
(iv) Guidelines to cover registration, eligibility norms, cross-holding, methodology for conducting rating, complaint redressal, sale & use of ratings, audit, disclosure, reporting requirements and penal provisions.
(v) Voluntary code of conduct by the industry for maintaining secrecy and privacy of the listeners including in the rating process.
(vi) Restrictions on ‘substantial equity holding of 10% or more’ between rating agencies and broadcasters/advertisers/advertising agencies have been prescribed.
(vii) The rating agency to set up an effective complaint redressal system.
(viii) Data/ reports generated by the rating agency to be made available to all interested stakeholders in a transparent and equitable manner.
(ix) The rating agency to get its entire methodology/processes audited internally on quarterly basis and through an independent auditor annually. All audit reports to be put on the website of the rating agency.
(x) Penal provisions for non-compliance of guidelines.
(xi) Twelve months time given to the existing rating agency to comply with the guidelines.
The full text of the recommendations is available on TRAIs website www.trai.gov.in