A Centre-appointed panel on Tuesday submitted its report on the Television Rating Points system to the Information and Broadcasting Ministry, according to The Indian Express. The committee’s report, which has not been made public, recommended few changes to the guidelines in order to minimise the scope of manipulation.

Union minister Prakash Javadekar hinted that the recommendations include increasing the number of meters installed in households to get a better understanding of viewership. “The main issue is that TRP should have more transparency,” Javadekar said, according to The Indian Express. Currently, ratings are calculated through 55,000 meters. “That base should increase, so that there is no scope of manipulation,” he added.

The four-member committee is headed by Prasar Bharati Chief Executive Officer Shashi Shekhar Vempati. It also includes IIT-Kanpur professor of statistics Shalabh, Rajkumar Upadhyay, the executive director of the Centre for Development of Telematics and IIM-Bangalore professor Pulak Ghosh. Vempati is also the board member of the Broadcast Audience Research Council – the primary body that publishes TRPs in India.

Javadekar said the ministry will discuss the report at length before handing it over to BARC. “[The] ministry will study the report, and the next steps will be decided after that”, he said, according to Mint. “The government reserves the right to give guidelines and directions. Those shall be given in time but the report having come today is a big step. It has been prepared after a lot of study and I’m sure all concerned agencies will welcome it.” Javadekar also praised the committee for doing a “very good work”.

The committee was set up by the Information and Broadcasting Ministry in November to review the guidelines on television rating agencies in India. “The committee shall carry out an appraisal of the existing system, examine Trai recommendations notified from time to time, overall industry scenario and addressing the needs of the stakeholders and make recommendations for a robust, transparent and accountable rating system through changes, if any, in the existing guidelines,” it had said in a statement.

TRP scam

The committee came into existence days after a fake TRP racket was busted. The fake TRP racket was uncovered in October when BARC filed a complaint through Hansa Research Group, alleging that certain television channels were rigging TRP numbers. Republic TV, Box Cinema and Marathi channel Fakt Marathi were accused of TRP manipulation during the preliminary investigation.

On December 25, Mumbai Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime) Milind Bharambe had said that a forensic audit report of the rating agency’s data had revealed that numbers were being manipulated at least since 2016. Bharambe said that the manipulations which were done to a greater extent for English and Telugu news channels, resulted in showing Republic TV as the top ranked channel, in terms of ratings.