The department-related standing committee for information and technology met on Thursday to discuss the subject ‘ethical standards in media coverage’.
The committee, headed by Congress MP Shashi Tharoor, accepted evidence on the issue from representatives of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.
Views of representatives of News Broadcasters Association, Press Council of India via Chairman Justice (R) Prasad and Prasar Bharati represented by Shashi Shekhar were taken, while the I&B ministry was represented by
Secretary Amit Khare.
Discussions during the meeting ranged from television rating points (TRP), fake news and regulation of media.
Sources said a broader agreement of all members of the committee is that there is ample scope for manipulation of TRPs, especially for English channels, since the base data is very small.
The members felt that any deviation will have multiplier effect. The government also said that there is no scientific way to record data that can be subject to scrutiny. All the sides agreed that “TRP numbers are not a true reflection of Indian viewership”.
“It was a meeting in its true spirit. We were discussing the issue threadbare in a bipartisan manner. However, on a complicated subject like this it is difficult to come up with the solution at once,” Tharoor told CNN-News18.
Sources said the government assured the Committee that the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) would be asked to come up with a new mechanism and that it is already working on stringent laws for devising regulatory framework for media. News Broadcasters Association (NBA) hailed BARC’s decision to temporarily suspend weekly ratings of news channels.
In a statement, the ratings agency said on Thursday the move is aimed to “review and augment the current standards of measuring and reporting the data of niche genres, to improve their statistical robustness and to significantly hamper the potential attempts of infiltrating the panel homes”. The suspension of ratings applies to all English, Hindi, regional and business news channels.