| 31 Jul 2021
AIR opposes industry-led regulatory body for rating radio listenership at TRAI open house

NEW DELHI: All India Radio will suffer if the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India decides on an industry-regulated body for radio audience measurement and rating services in India.

This was the view expressed at an Open House chaired by Trai chairman R S Sharma on the subject here as a final step before the regulator finalises its views.

Sharma later told newspersons that the final recommendation may be given in the next week to ten days.

Trai had issued a consultation paper on this subject on 15 March 2016 and sought views of stakeholders by 11 April and additional comments by 25 April.

The meet was largely attended by representative of private FM players who favoured an industry-driven body on the lines of Broadcast Audience Research Council.

Representatives of AIR expressed the fear that AIR which reaches every nook and corner of the country and is prominently heard in rural India will suffer since 'any industry body will not cover radio audiences suitably', it maintained.

An AIR official not wanting to be identified said that BARC had failed to cover rural India until it attracted criticism but was still not sufficiently covering rural India where Doordarshan has the greatest reach.

He said the same malaise will cripple radio advertising in the event of an industry-body not sufficiently reflecting AIR channels.

The official added that AIR’s own research team was doing commendable work since it was getting results from all over the country.

In the paper, Trai wanted to know if there is a need to regulate the radio audience measurement and rating services and whether this should be done by the regulator/government or self-regulatory bodies.

Trai has also suggested some broad contours for an industry led body proposed to be formed for regulating the radio rating system and sought views of stakeholders on these. The paper also suggests some eligibility conditions for rating agencies and guidelines for methodology for audience measurement and wants views on these.

At the outset, Trai noted that the Information and Broadcasting Ministry issued guidelines for Television Rating Agencies and the industry body Broadcasting Audience Research Council (BARC) had been entrusted with the task of conducting TV audience measurement.

Similarly for the radio broadcasting sector, Radio Audience Measurement (RAM), which is an indicator of the number of listeners to a radio channels, has become essential.

At present, radio audience measurement in India is conducted by AIR and TAM Media Research. AIR carries out periodical large scale radio audience surveys on various AIR channels. TAM Media Research conducts radio audience measurement on private FM Radio channels through an independent division, which is a joint service between IMRB International and Nielsen Media Research. It uses the paper diary method to measure Radio listenership with a panel size of 480 individuals each in Bengaluru, Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata and listenership data is provided on a weekly basis.

Trai says the total advertising revenues of the radio broadcasting sector depend on the advertisement duration and the rates per unit time. The duration as well as the advertisements rates depends upon numbers and demographics of the radio listeners. Accordingly, there is a need for radio audience measurement which can measure the popularity of a channel or a programme for the advertisers and advertising agencies. This will assist them in selecting the right channel or programme at the right time to reach the target listeners. Further, it will also aid the radio channels in improving their programmes (both quality of the programme and content variety) for attracting more listeners. Advertisement revenues of the radio broadcasting sector are directly linked to listenership of radio channels.

Trai said the Consultation Paper had been issued to prescribe a framework for radio rating system in India that is conducive to growth, forward looking, and addresses the concerns of the stakeholders while protecting the interests of the consumers. The main objectives of the consultation paper are to ensure growth of Radio broadcasting sector; ensure transparency in radio audience measurement & ratings; ensure greater diversity and better quality content.