The circulation of a confidential list of sample homes tapped for television ratings has sparked off a verbal war among the leading satellite channels. This has caused STAR, Zee Telefilms and Sony Entertainment Television to level accusations of manipulation in ratings. While Zee and Sony have hinted doubt at the huge ratings of certain programmes on Star Plus, the Rupert Murdoch-owned company has expressed surprise at the timing of the revelations.
“It was difficult to believe that certain viewing patterns completely changed for one year. Kaun Banega Crorepati was undoubtedly a huge show. But we couldn’t relate to such huge ratings in some of the other shows, particularly when they were no huge differentiators,” Sony Entertainment Television, chief executive officer, Kunal Dasgupta said.
Zee Telefilms raised the same doubt. “There definitely was an issue of peoplemetre throughout the last year. We are concerned that ratings agencies should reflect the true picture. How can programmes reach 20 plus ratings at such late hours? Somebody needs to look into all these issues,” said Mr RK Singh, CEO, corporate, Zee Telefilms.
STAR ruled out such allegations, saying that all channels have been victims and beneficiaries of the rating agencies. “Somebody’s got a list and circulated it. This has come in the background of a relaunch of a channel, the merger of the two monitoring agencies, TAM and INTAM.
The investigation has not shown that any peoplemetre home has alleged of being approached by a channel to influence ratings,” said Star India, chief executive officer, Peter Mukerjea.
Broadcasters, however, have expressed concern over the easy availability of the list of sample households in Mumbai of both TAM and INTAM.
Mr Mukerjea agreed to the fact that, “There has been a breach of security in the research agencies of the sample list. For some reason, it is proven now that the data is not sanitised.
The panel needs to be revamped completely, if the list is publicly known.” Added Star spokesperson, “We have always gone by these findings for the last six years, even when we were a distant number three channel, both in ratings and reach and now when we are No 1. But as an industry, we find this a serious matter and will take it up with the research agencies immediately through the Indian Broadcasting Federation.”
Rating agencies TAM and INTAM have agreed to replace the panel. TAM has admitted in a letter to a broadcaster that “as a matter of abundant caution, we are proposing to completely revamp the