Electronic chip in set-top boxes not tantamount to surveillance: Govt sources

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NEW DELHI: The government has denied opposition charges that the ministry of information and broadcasting is planning a surveillance drive, this time to monitor which television channel people watch, and for how long.

The denial follows a letter I&B secretary has written to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) in March, proposing that set top boxes be fitted with electronic chips that can accurately monitor viewership data, and which can then give the ministry a realistic picture of the viewership data and popularity of each channel.

Sources in the government said the ministry was unhappy with the “opaque” manner in which Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) collected its data, as well as the authenticity and accuracy of the data they supplied. Since TRP data is collected from TV sets provided to viewers free-of-cost by BARC, sources said the government believed it could be manipulated to favour one or more channels.

In its place, the ministry is of the…

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