TRP Trick: How Television in India was Hijacked!

Authored by Dr N Bhaskara Rao, Chairman CMS

Dr N Bhaskara Rao’s latest book traces how rating has entered in India to curb the creativity of India in Indian television, how ratings have snubbed and curbed Indian genius. And, how India missed an opportunity of coming up with an alternative model of TV in the world.

The book exposes the false TRP system and it’s thrust with misleading and misrepresentative viewership. TRP is based on only ‘on’ and ‘off’ of a TV set and that too by a handful people. And that was how impact and influence aspects of television viewing have been ignored (as if deliberately) in favour of an instant and inane percentages.

The book will be released on December 4, 2018 at Constitution Club, New Delhi by Dr A Surya Prakash, Chairman Prasar Bharati, and Mr Kiran Karnik former CEO of Discovery Channel will introduces the book and the topic.

An interesting panel discussion on “Rejuvenating Indian TV” will be held on this occasion with all important stakeholders. Mr Ashok Venkatramani, MD Zee Media (News); Padmashri Alok Mehta, Senior editor; Mr K G Suresh, Director General, Indian Institute of Mass Communication; Ms Anuradha Prasad, Chairperson BAG Network; Mr Sunil Gupta, Secretary TRAI will be part of the discussion panel.
The book also explains how ratings and TRPs have distorted the intent and purpose of Television in India. Television was taken initially by Indian leaders and supported with high expectations of an entertainment – education model. But ended up as a ‘market media’ instead of retaining character of a mass media. TRP caters to interests of corporates more than citizen and community.

The book calls for strengthening BARC for making its service more reflective, representative and transparent. It also advocates TRAI recommending impact research as an obligatory responsibility of channels individually and together and Government support such longitudinal research.

In his Foreword Kiran Karnik, who was earlier CEO of Discovery Channel said that “this book is of such special relevance and significance” in view of continued reliance on TRPs. He further wrote that “Dr Rao as a legendary figure and a pioneer in TV research in the country provides deep insights because of his personal involvement in key developments of TV in India. For anyone interested in understanding how ratings and TRPs have distorted the intent and purpose of TV in India, even as you take a journey through the history of TV, this is the book to read”.

Alok Mehta, Senior Editor and former President of Editors Guild, described the book as a “milestone in India’s television”. He said, “reading this book is an enriching experience even to viewers as it has insights for a reposition of Indian TV”. Mehta further wrote that, “This book traces as never before and in a fascinating way, how it all happened unquestioned using then an unknown meter and with a sample of a few hundred TV households”.

Qualitative dimensions of viewership are important and cannot be ignored. Passive viewership, which is what TRP captures, is of no consequence except for advertising. And yet TRPs are being used more for programme priorities.

Despite TRPs in use for over two decades, never before the system and the practice was analysed or written about and deliberated publicly for a decade CMS and Dr Rao have been reminding the nation of menace of ratings.

Press Note

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