New Delhi, April 16: In a bid to get more “authentic figures” about viewership for various channels, the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting has proposed that the new set-top boxes be installed with a chip that would monitor was the viewer is watching and for how long. The proposal came up while the Ministry was responding to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) over Direct-To-Home license renewal.

As per news agency PTI, the Ministry feels that Doordarshan viewership was “under-reported” so there was a need for real viewership figures for the channel. The Directorate of Advertising and Visual Publicity, the government’s nodal agency of advertising for the various ministries and their departments, could also do with the input so as to spend wisely on advertising, a senior I&B Ministry official is reported to have told TRAI. “The widely watched channels will get promoted,” he said.

About installing the chip, the Ministry told TRAI, “It is also proposed to ask DTH operators to install a chip in the new set-top boxes which can give data about the channels watched and their duration.”

Meanwhile, the move is also being seen as an attempt to end the monopoly of the Broadcast Audience Research Council of India (BARC) which is, till date, the authority that gives a measure of TV audience preference in the country. The ministry official alleged that “BARC is like a monopoly” and that “it doesn’t tell how it arrives at data”. He said BARC conducts its survey by installing 30,000 people meter which is soldered to the TV’s mother board. The ministry even considered conducting the same with a 300 people meter but then figured that the number was too small to compare data.

BARC, on its part, has refuted allegations of monopoly. “We are a joint industry body that was set up in close consultation with all stake-holders, including government representatives and TRAI. Our data collection and reporting methodology were arrived at post these consultations and consensus…the detailed methodology has always been available on our website.”

TRAI has reportedly told the Ministry to send “a separate reference” for this particular proposal of installing a chip in new set-top boxes.