Government plans to notify ratings of TV channels
By: Syed Irfan Raza
ISLAMABAD: The government is planning to monitor and notify official ratings (viewership) of private television channels and regulate government advertisements for them accordingly.
Under the plan, Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf has approved formation of the Department of Electronic Media (Dem) in the ministry of information to specifically deal with the electronic media (private TV channels and FM radios).
“The Dem will act as a facilitator for the electronic media,” Secretary Information Chaudhry Rashid told Dawn.
“Once the directorate is established the government advertisements will be given on the basis of the official ratings of TV channels,” another senior official of the information ministry said.
Under the plan, the new department will launch a Rs70 million project to declare official ratings of private TV channels and more than 5,000 meters will be installed across the country to monitor viewership of the channels and their specific programmes.
“These meters will be installed with TV sets in different areas and give information as to which TV channel is being selected by viewers and on how many times a day,” said another official.
At present, the government has no system to gauge the ratings of private TV channels as the task is being done by a private firm for the government but the authenticity of the privately-announced ratings is said to be doubtful.
“It has been observed that some times private TV channels go beyond journalistic ethics in their TV shows, especially talk-shows just to keep good ratings and provide unethical stuff to their viewers,” the official claimed. As there is no system to gauge ratings, some TV channels usually claim themselves to be on top among competitors.
“It is believed that when the government will start declaring official ratings, TV channels’ “unethical programmes” will be phased out automatically on the basis of people’s opinion,” the official said. At present there is no proper mechanism with the government to issue advertisements and monitoring their coverage by private TV channels.
“The volume of the total advertisements given to the electronic media in a year is Rs19 billion. Of this, Rs5 billion ads are given by the public sector and the rest by the private sector,” the official said.
He said although the proportion of the public sector advertisements was almost one-third of the total volume of advertisements, the ratio of profit of the government advertisements was far bigger than that of the private sector.
“The rate of government advertisements ranges between Rs200,000 and Rs250,000 per minute while the private sector’s rate starts from Rs500 and its maximum limit is Rs29,000 per minute,” the official said.