The system will be launched by Broadcasters Audience Research Council (BARC), a non-profit body of the Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF), Association of Advertising Agencies of India (AAAI) and Indian Society of Advertisers (ISA).
The new rating system would be compatible with direct-to-home (DTH) and applicable to conditional access system (CAS) areas as well. Besides cities, the database would include rural and remote areas, which currently do not get reflected. The development assumes significance as though DTH is in a nascent stage in India, the number of subscribers are much higher than the current number of households that fall under the people metre that TAM or aMap has. TAM has 7,200 people metres in 145 cities. CAS has become mandatory in Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata, after Chennai, where it was tested first. As of December 31, 2007, the highest adoption rate of 42% was seen in Mumbai for DTH. The total average DTH penetration in 2007 was about 3.5 million in these metros.
The need for a new rating system was felt with the information and broadcasting (I&B) minister Priyaranjan Dasmunshi recently expressing concern about the prevalent television rating system, terming it as biased.
Further, the data produced by BARC would cost much lower than of its counterparts like TAM (Television Audience Measurement) and aMap (Audience Measurement and Analytics) as the objective of the organization is not to monetize its property but be a fair and reasonable instrument that can be used by media planners, advertisers and broadcasters to determine cost of ad-space across channels and plan their ad-spends.
The core decision making body of BARC will comprise 12 members, four each drawn out from the three bodies, IBF, AAAI and ISA with one voting right each so that every stakeholder has equal representation and right. The sample size of BARC is likely to be in the range of 18,000 to 25,000, an increase of three to four times of the sample size of existing agencies, which hovers around 7,000 people meter.
Meanwhile, the broadcasters are in talks with two most prominent players in the DTH business, Dish TV and Tata Sky, to develop a first-of-its-kind parallel ratings system that will use a new software fitted within set-top-boxes to measure TV viewing patterns.