– by Pragya Mishra
The Mumbai Police on Thursday said that it is probing a complaint filed by BARC, the TV viewership management agency, and has unearthed a TRP-fixing scam that involves big media houses such as India Today Group and Republic TV.
Let us understand how the TRP system works. BARC installs some viewership monitoring meters in some households and tries to figure out the pattern of the audience and then studies it. It simply represents how many people are watching the channel at a given particular time. It could be a minute, an hour, a day, and even one week. The data are made public every week. It is being alleged that the “People’s meter” installed by BARC in various households are being rigged by the media houses to manipulate the TRPs in their favor.
Indian journalism has started to degrade beyond imaginable levels and there is a need to instill responsibility and accountability in the Indian media. Basically, the Indian media is backed by strong advertisement agencies. These agencies pay these news channels on the basis of their viewership and that is why these channels have shown scheduled in the “Primetime”.
Nowadays, to increase their viewership the news channels have started showing news which are unauthentic or which tends to promote communal hatred. The news channels have started diverting from national issues and have started focusing on content that sells. There are only some news channels that still follow a good journalism standard and are interested to show some authentic news to their viewers.
The Mumbai police have summoned the CFO of Republic TV in the case but after he has refused to appear before the probe team, the cops have summoned the CEO and two others. As per the recent developments in the case, the crime branch of Mumbai police has also sent 6 different teams to 6 different locations to conduct further investigation in the case. These locations have not been disclosed by the Mumbai police.
On the other hand, India Today is constantly trying to present itself as a clean channel that is not into the TRP game. BARC had mentioned India Today in its FIR. Suspiciously, Mumbai Police mentioned only Republic TV’s name during their press conference.
The advertising agencies are closely monitoring the case as the case has spooked them. They are seeking clarity and directions from BARC on the issue. Recently the MD of Bajaj Company, Mr. Rajiv Bajaj has taken a stand against spreading toxicity and hate-mongering in the society by blacklisting three channels and Parle G has followed the suit. This move is going to be very impactful towards the need for accountability and responsibility of the media and will lead to curbing the fake news issue.