NEWS14 September 2010

OzTam to appoint independent chair after probe

Asia Pacific Government

AUSTRALIA— TV ratings body OzTam is to appoint an independent chairman and director as part of a court-enforceable undertaking agreed with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).

Reports surfaced last month suggesting that a new chairman would be appointed following an ACCC investigation into how the TV ratings body operated.

OzTam is currently led by a representative from each of the three TV networks that owns it, Seven, Nine and Ten. According to press reports, the ACCC was called in by Ten CEO Grant Blackley after he was unsatisfied with the way that his network’s new sports channel’s ratings were reported.

The investigation has now been completed and ACCC chairman Graeme Samuel said: “The ACCC investigation revealed that the OzTam arrangements could raise trade practice concerns. Under the arrangements, an OzTam nominee director representing the interests of a particular shareholder could affect the reporting and marketing of new digital channels by refusing consent to the separate reporting of ratings data for those new channels.”

As a result of the findings OzTam must appoint an independent director and chair to its board who will have casting vote powers on “some matters”.

Seven, Nine and Ten must also ensure that OzTam is authorised to release and report on new digital channels should they request it. OzTam and its shareholders must also ensure that “competitively sensitive information” is not shared between directors and shareholders, and that regular trade practices law compliance training is procured.