The Union government on Wednesday directed the Broadcast Audience Research Council to immediately release Television Rating Points for news channels, The Times of India reported.

The government’s order comes 15 months after the agency paused the release of the data amid a row over the alleged manipulation of TRPs by three media organisations.

The order by the Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting stated that TRP data will now be computed in the form of a four-week rolling average.

The ministry has also formed a joint working group comprising representatives from the television industry and the government to come up with guidelines to leverage Return Path Data from set top boxes while ensuring that privacy concerns are addressed. Return Path Data is data on viewership that comes from calibrated set top boxes, and it gives detailed information on audience behaviour.

In October 2020, soon after BARC suspended the release of TRPs of news channels, the government had set up a committee led by Prasar Bharati Chief Executive Officer Shashi Shekhar Vempati to look into TRP practices. The panel had filed its report on January 12 last year, according to The Indian Express.

On Wednesday, the government said that BARC has revised its protocols and brought about changes in its governance structure based on the report of the committee and the recommendations of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India.

The ministry said that BARC has started the process of reconstituting its Board and Technical Committee to allow for the induction of independent members. The government added that in light of these developments, it asked the agency to release ratings with immediate effect.

TRP row

The fake TRP racket was uncovered in October 2020 when BARC filed a complaint through Hansa Research Group, alleging that certain television channels were rigging TRP numbers. Hansa Research is one of BARC’s vendors on engagement with panel homes or “people’s meters”.

Republic TV, Box Cinema and Marathi channel Fakt Marathi were accused of TRP manipulation during the preliminary investigation.

In June 2021, the Mumbai Police named television anchor Arnab Goswami as an accused person in a supplementary chargesheet filed in the case. A total of 22 persons have been named as accused in the matter.