NEWS10 June 2013

Several broadcasters ‘withdraw’ from TAM ratings in India

Asia Pacific

INDIA — Several broadcasters have withdrawn from TAM Media Research’s TV ratings service, citing growing concern about the accuracy of the data provided.

Departing broadcasters include Multi Screen Media, which runs Sony Entertainment Television, and New Delhi Television, which sued TAM last year over allegations of TV ratings tempering. The case was dismissed this year.

In a report published in The Hindu, MSM CEO Man Jit Singh is quoted as saying: “Even as the universe of television households is increasing, TAM data shows decreasing viewership. Why should we pay for the destruction of our own value?”

TAM has been locked in disputes for years over the size and make-up of its ratings system and whether it best reflects viewership in the country. Broadcasters claim that a “panel size of 9,000 meters is absolutely ridiculous for a country of India’s size and heterogeneity”, according to The Hindu sources.

On several occasions the government has looked to intervene. Back in 2008, for example, complaints from the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting about the lack of representation of smaller towns and rural areas in the TAM sample led to an investigation by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India. Meanwhile, in 2011, a separate government-commissioned review of the ratings system called on broadcasters, advertisers and ad agencies to fund an expansion of audience measurement panels as the existing ones were “grossly inadequate”.

Commenting on the broadcasters’ withdrawals in an interview with the website BestMediaInfo, TAM CEO LV Krishnan said: “We are really perplexed to see this kind of reaction. The way to resolve it was to come to the table and give us a certain time to come up with a solution. The problem is that nobody is coming back and saying that these are the three or four issues they have that need to be deliberated upon.”

Several days prior to the withdrawals, the new industry-funded body Broadcasters Audience Research Council issued a global request for proposals as an early step towards establishing a new TV ratings system in the country. A number of media commentators in India have speculated that the two developments might be connected.