Before learning the ABC of news, TV channels first learn about the TRP of news. Just over 40,000 TRP ‘boxes’ in a country of over 150 million cable and satellite TV watching homes, decide crores of advertising revenues for TV channels. Thus, TV news in India is ruled by that infamous 3 letter word: TRP (Television Rating Point). High TRPs bring in high ad revenues so everyone can sing, ‘money, money, money’.
TV channels pursue TRPs as relentlessly as King Arthur’s knights once pursued the Holy Grail. Anchors like to say ‘let’s take a commercial break’ because ad breaks give everyone in the studio a lucky break. ‘Break ke baad’ really means daily bread ke baad.
But now the Broadcasting Audience Research Council (or BARC) has said there will be no TRP ratings published for three months. This is because a recent ‘TRP scam’ has surfaced. In a certain banana republic, say Mumbai police, there was mass rigging of TRPs. Mumbai police are snooping from door to door asking: Box kahaan hai?
It’s not about the ballot box or box office hits, but ‘TRP box’ installed in households, which were allegedly paid to keep the channel running for hours in order to register falsely high TRPs. As police hunt for boxes, we can understand why many TV reporters have to learn to be boxers.
Ah the quest for TRPs on prime time TV. TV anchors are yelling, gesticulating, dressing in military fatigues and even fighting make-believe studio wars. Reporters are tracking Bollywood stars by road, rail and aircraft. As Bangladesh’s per capita GDP surges ahead of India, unemployment spikes to record highs and millions of salaried jobs are lost, prime time news TV is shouting, the nation wants to know: Which Bollywood actor smoked how many grams of weed? And which Bollywood star holds late night drug parties and is there a Dawood-Pakistan hand? As China comes knocking on India’s borders, TRP hunting channels are feverishly asking: When will we get justice for Sushant Singh Rajput?
Quipped the internet wag: Reporters have been heard asking editors, since there are no TRPs for the moment, perhaps we can cover some news? With the pause in TRPs, viewers are sighing in relief. Now that there’s no three letter word called TRP, can we have some other three letter words like GST, GDP or even SME?
DISCLAIMER : This article is intended to bring a smile to your face. Any connection to events and characters in real life is coincidental.