Audience and readership measuring is flawed in India, according to the article “Boom time for media but witha growing ethical deficit”, by A.S. Panneerselvan. The unavailability of reliable data impedes, among others, the fair allocation of government advertising and undermines people’s quest for truth.
The Indian readership survey is supposed to give everyone — public, media and business interests alike — the demographic details of press readership and circulation. But the latest Indian Readership Survey (IRS) by the Media Research Users Council (MRUC) and Readership Studies Council of India (RSCI) has “absurd figures which defy logic and reason”, says Panneerselvan.
The Television Rating Point (TRP), which is supposed to track the programmes that are most popular, has failed to gain the broadcast industry’s confidence. Prannoy Roy, the Chairman of broadcasting NDTV group, said: “Virtually every city in India has a ratings consultant who, for a relatively small fee, will ensure higher ratings for any channel.” Reportedly, ratings consultants get to know where the people-meters that measure viewership are located, visit the people-meter homes, give the family a brand new 60-inch plasma television and tell them: “Watch whatever you like on this lovely big television but on the television attached to the people-meter you must only watch such-and-such channels (…) The family also gets an additional reward at the end of the year if they have done what they were asked to do efficiently”.
Statisticians and other number crunchers are expected to follow a rigorous methodology to provide reliable data on the media’s reach. But if their projections are deeply flawed, it severely undermines people’s quest for the truth.
Source: A.S. Panneerselvan (2015) “India: boom-time for media but with a growing ethical deficit” in Aidan White (ed.) Untold Stories. How Corruption and Conflicts of Interests Stalk the Newsroom. Ethical Jornalism Network. http://ethicaljournalismnetwork.org/assets/docs/220/136/92a87dc-d968188.pdf