Hot Off The PressNews

Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has today constituted a committee to review “Guidelines on Television Rating Agencies in India” notified by the Ministry in 2014.

The present guidelines issued by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) on Television Rating Agencies in India were notified after detailed deliberations by the Parliamentary Committee, Committee on Television Rating Points (TRP) constituted by the MIB and recommendations of Telecom Regulatory Authority etc.

It has been found, based on the operation of the guidelines for a few years, that there is need to have a fresh look on the guidelines particularly keeping in view the recent recommendations of Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), technological advancements/interventions to address the system and further strengthening of the procedures for a credible and transparent rating system.

A committee has been hereby constituted to study different aspects of the television rating system in India as they have evolved over a period of time.  The Committee shall carry out an appraisal of the existing system; examine TRAI recommendations notified from time to time, overall industry scenario and addressing the needs of the stakeholders and make recommendations for robust, transparent and accountable rating system through changes, if any, in the existing guidelines.

The composition of the Committee shall be as under:-

i)             Shri Shashi S. Vempati, CEO, Prasar Bharti                 …. Chairman

ii)            Dr Shalabh, Professor of Statistics,

              Department of Mathematics and Statistics,

              IIT Kanpur                                                                           ….Member

iii)           Dr. Rajkumar Upadhyay, Executive Director,

              C-DOT                                                                                  ….Member

iv)           Professor Pulak Ghosh, Decision Sciences

              Centre for Public Policy (CPP)                                         ….Member

The Terms of Reference for the Committee shall be as under:

  1. Study past recommendations made by various forums on the subject of television rating systems in India and matter incidental thereto;
  2. Study recent recommendations of Telecom Regulatory Authority on the subject;
  3. Suggest steps for enhancing competition in the sector;
  4. Review of the presently notified guidelines to see if the intended purpose(s) of issuing the guidelines have stood the test of time and has met needs of various stakeholders involve The lacunae, if any, shall be specially addressed by the Committee;
  5. Any issues related or incidental to the subject;
  6. To make recommendations on way forward for robust, transparent and accountable rating system in India; and
  7. Any other related issues assigned by MIB from time to time.

The Committee can invite any expert as a special invitee. The Committee will submit its report to the Minister for Information & Broadcasting within two months.


Ministry of Information & Broadcasting

[Press Release dt. 04-11-2020]

[Source: PIB]

Hot Off The PressNews

In the light of the recent developments, BARC Board has proposed that it’s Technical Committee (Tech Comm) 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. This exercise would cover all Hindi, Regional, English News and Business News channels with immediate effect.

Therefore, starting with the ‘News Genre’, BARC will cease publishing the weekly individual ratings for all news channels during the exercise. This exercise is expected to take around 8-12 weeks including validation and testing under the supervision of BARCs Tech Comm. BARC will continue to release weekly audience estimates for the genre of news by state and language.

Explaining the need for this move, Punit Goenka, Chairman of BARC India Board said, “Given the most recent developments, the BARC Board was of the opinion that a pause was necessitated to enable the industry and BARC to work closely to review its already stringent protocols and further augment them to enable the industry to focus on collaborating for growth and well-natured competitiveness”.

Says Sunil Lulla, CEO, BARC India, “We at BARC take our role in truthfully and faithfully reporting ‘What India Watches’ with the greatest sense of responsibility and work with integrity to ensure that our audience estimates (ratings) remain true to their purpose”. He added, “besides augmenting current protocols and benchmarking them with global standards, BARC is actively exploring several options to discourage unlawful inducement of its panel home viewers and further strengthening its Code of Conduct to Address Viewership Malpractice”.


Broadcast Audience Research Council of India

Statement dt. 15-10-2020

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Madras High Court: R. Subramanian, J., refused to allow the application filed by Sathiyam Media praying for rejection of plaint filed by the Isha Foundation claiming damages for defamation from the applicant.

Cause of Action

The present application was filed to seek rejection of the plaint due to non-disclosure of the cause of action.

The above-stated suit is pertaining to damages for defamation and for permanent injunction restraining the defendant from publishing or telecasting any material or news item which either directly or indirectly defames the plaintiff foundation.

Plaintiff’s case

The defendant which is a television channel airing news items has been indulging in persistently broadcasting various programs that tend to lower the image of the plaintiff foundation and the founder of the plaintiff foundation.

Disparaging the reputation

Compere of the programmes can be seen to put leading questions with a view to extracting a response which disparages the reputation of the plaintiff foundation and its founder.

Motive: To increase Television Rating Points (TRPs)

Further, the plaintiff added that, the only concern of the defendant was to increase the television rating points and to sensationalize by publishing the response of people who had certain grievances against the plaintiff foundation and its founder.

Defendant sought the rejection of plaint on the ground that few issues which had been raised in the various broadcasts by the defendant were subject matter of certain writ petitions pending before this Court and therefore the suit will have to await the disposal of the petitions.

Counsel for the applicant/defendant P.T. Perumal and Advocate Rajendra Kumar for the respondent/plaintiff.

Analysis

Defamation

Applicant’s counsel invited the Court’s attention to the decision of Gujarat High Court in Narottamdas L Shah v. Patel Maganbhai Revabhai, 1984 Cri. Law Journal 1790 to contend that the suit having been filed by the foundation it should prove that there was a loss caused to the reputation of the foundation as such and reputation being what neighbours and others think about another person unless it is proved that the reputation of the plaintiff in the eyes of such other person or persons was lowered it cannot be said that there was defamation.

Presence or absence of evidence is essentially a matter to be decided in the suit and not in an application under Order 7 Rule 11 CPC.

Bench stated that the absence of evidence regarding the plaintiff’s damage to the reputation in the eyes of the third person could not form a ground for rejection of plaint at this stage or even at a later stage.

Other Proceedings Pending

In Court’s opinion, if the defendant in an action for defamation raises the defence of truth it is for him to establish it and succeed on the basis of evidence.

Further, it was added that he cannot rely upon or seek the aid of some dispute which is pending before a court of law to prove his case.

“Rejection of a plaint is an extraordinary remedy and the same cannot be invoked on grounds other than the ones specified in the rule itself.”

If there are hundred TV channels and a hundred newspapers and all of them publish defamatory material against an individual or an organisation, the organisation or the individual cannot be forced to file suits for damages against all of them. It is left to the discretion of the plaintiff to decide as to who is to be sued depending on the damage caused.

In view of the above, application was dismissed. [Sathiyam Media Vision (P) Ltd. v. Isha Foundation, 2019 SCC OnLine Mad 33067, decided on 06-08-2019]