NEWS8 September 2005

TNS commits to TAM boost as AGB Nielsen quits Russia

TNS plans TAM panel increase as AGB Nielsen closes Russian operations, despite winning controversial tender

TNS is forging ahead with plans to expand its TV audience measurement panel in Russia following AGB Nielsen Media Research’s shock withdrawal from the country.

Alex Kostyuk, TNS’ director of TV audience research in the region, told Research the agency would begin discussions with clients next year on plans to boost its panel from 2,500 to 3,000 homes by 2007.

Last September, TNS vowed it would continue operating in Russia, despite being replaced as the official supplier to the Russian TAM auditing body, Media Committee, by AGB Nielsen.

However, AGB Nielsen recently closed down its business in the country. A company spokesman told Research: “AGBNMR Russia was closed because after a long negotiation we found that the Media Committee did not have the will to establish the kind of quality TAM service that clients would expect from our company, and consequently could not provide the financial resources necessary to do it.”

The spokesman added that AGB Nielsen remains “alive to any business opportunity for TAM in Russia and beyond”. However, he said: “On balance we would be a little surprised if we were asked to re-enter the market at this time.”

The withdrawal may prove to be the final twist in what was a highly controversial tender for the new Russian TAM contract. TNS had pulled out of the race last year after two previous tenders had failed because members of the Media Committee could not reach agreement.

The final tender, which AGB Nielsen won, could only go ahead after the Chekhov Centre Humanitarian Fund – an organisation that appeared to have no previous TAM experience – entered the contest.

TNS’ existing contract with the Media Committee is due to expire at the end of the year. Kostyuk said: “Nothing has been declared by the Media Committee about further intentions to hold a tender, but the industry would reject any idea of new tenders within the next several years after that painful story in 2003-2004.”

Media Committee did not answer requests to comment.