Policy Guidelines for Television Rating Agencies in India

The Union Cabinet today approved the proposal of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting for bringing out a comprehensive regulatory framework in the form of guidelines for Television Rating Agencies in India. These guidelines cover detailed procedures for registration of rating agencies, eligibility norms, terms and conditions of registration, cross-holdings, methodology for audience measurement, a complaint redressal mechanism, sale and use of ratings, audit, disclosure, reporting requirements and action on non-compliance of guidelines etc. The proposal is based on recommendations made by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) on “Guidelines for Television Rating Agencies” dated 11th September, 2013.

Based on the recommendations of TRAI, comprehensive policy guidelines for television rating agencies have been formulated.

Salient features of these guidelines are as follows:

• All rating agencies including the existing rating agencies shall obtain registration from the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.
• Detailed registration procedure, eligibility norms, terms and conditions, cross-holding norms, period of registration, security conditions and other obligations have been delineated.
• No single company / legal entity either directly or through its associates or interconnect undertakings shall have substantial equity holding that is, 10 percent or more of paid up equity in both rating agencies and broadcasters/advertisers/advertising agencies.
• Ratings ought to be technology neutral and shall capture data across multiple  viewing platforms viz. cable TV, Direct-to- Home (DTH), Terrestrial TV etc.
• Panel homes for audience measurement shall be drawn from the pool of households selected through an establishment survey. A minimum panel size of 20,000 to be implemented within  six months of the guidelines coming into force.  Thereafter the panel size shall be increased by 10,000 every year until it reaches the figure of 50,000.
• Secrecy and privacy of the panel homes must be maintained. 25 percent of panel homes shall be rotated every year.
• The rating agency shall submit the detailed methodology to the Government and also publish it on its website.
• The rating agency shall set up an effective complaint redressal system with a toll free number.
• The rating agency shall set up an internal audit mechanism to get its entire methodology/processes audited internally on quarterly basis and through an independent auditor annually. All audit reports to be put on the website of the rating agency.   Government and TRAI reserve the right to audit the systems /procedures/mechanisms of the rating agency.
• Non-compliance of guidelines on cross-holding, methodology, secrecy, privacy, audit, public disclosure and reporting requirements shall lead to forfeiture of two bank guarantees worth Rs. one crore furnished by the company in the first instance, and, in the second instance shall lead to cancellation of registration. For violation of other provisions of the guidelines, the action shall be forfeiture of bank guarantee of Rs. 25 lakh for the first instance of non-compliance, forfeiture of bank guarantee of Rs.75 lakh for the second instance of non compliance and for the third instance, cancellation of registration.
• 30 days time would be given to the existing rating agency to comply with the guidelines.
• The guidelines would come into effect immediately from the date of notification.

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