The recommendations, which aim to create a regulatory framework for entities that are into radio audience measurements and ratings, also suggest that the guidelines for rating system be notified by Information and Broadcasting Ministry.
The recommendations also hold that any agency meeting the eligibility conditions can apply and get registered with I&B Ministry for doing the rating work and no cap on number of rating agencies has been prescribed.
In a statement issued today, TRAI said audience measurement is essential since advertising is the sole source of revenue for FM radio operators and the advertisement revenue of the radio broadcasting sector is directly linked to listenership of a radio channels. It also added that the number of people listening to radio is expected to grow further after completion of Phase-III of the FM radio expansion activity.
“The present system of radio ratings in India appears to have certain deficiencies that have been highlighted by stakeholders at various forums. Continuance with an inadequate radio rating system is likely to hamper the growth of radio industry as financial decisions are largely influenced by radio ratings,” TRAI said. Therefore, a need was felt to prescribe a transparent, credible and acceptable framework for the radio audience measurement, it added.
TRAI also said it has adopted a “light touch” approach and recommended a regulatory 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.
In its statement TRAI said the guidelines for radio audience measurement agencies would cover registration, eligibility norms, cross-holding, methodology for conducting rating, complaint redressal, sale and use of ratings, audit, disclosure, reporting requirements and penal provisions.
Restrictions on ‘substantial equity holding of 10 per cent or more’ between rating agencies and broadcasters, advertisers or advertising agencies have been prescribed, the TRAI statement said.
Another recommendation holds that the rating agency set up an effective complaint redressal system. Data or reports generated by the rating agency to be made available to all interested stakeholders in a transparent and equitable manner has also been recommended.
In its recommendations, TRAI has also held that the rating agency should get its entire methodology or processes audited internally on quarterly basis and through an independent auditor annually. All audit reports should be put on the website of the rating agency, says the TRAI recommendations, adding there would be penal provisions for non-compliance of guidelines.
The recommendations also lay down that 12 months time given to the existing rating agencies to comply with the guidelines.