In January 2014, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting approved the new guidelines for television ratings and highlighted that no single company / legal entity either directly or through its associates or interconnect undertakings shall have substantial equity holding that is, 10 per cent or more of paid up equity in both rating agencies and broadcasters/ advertisers/ advertising agencies.
The news came as shock to the existing TV ratings agency TAM, a joint venture between Kantar and Nielsen. It’s a strong and clear signal for TAM to either sell their stake or wind up their operations.
As expected, Kantar media took the legal route and went to High Court. While as per the High Court, Kantar won't get a stay order on the petition for now as the deadline is February 16, 2014, Kantar’s case will be heard again on February 11, 2014, and the final decision will be taken then.
Rohit Bansal, CEO, India Strategy Group, Hammurabi & Solomon Consulting, LLP, said, “From available information, neither the government, TRAI, nor the entire industry is interested in shutting down what is the only credible currency for television ratings at present. A reprieve for a few months coming from the courts is likely to be widely welcome.”
He added, “However it will be useful, for TAM as well as any serious challengers to its monopoly, to use the interim time widely and efficiently. Complete lack of information on what audiences are really watching isn’t good for advertisers, broadcasters, TAM, and ultimately, the viewer.”
While Pradeep Iyengar, President, EMM India, said, “TAM can’t be shut down by the given deadline, as there is no one else giving us any reading of TV currency, so it will maintain its status quo, till such a time an alternative force is ready. Huge investments are at stake and we cannot afford to be without any form of TV currency. Secondly, I do not understand as to why the government has got involved in an area that is completely private. There are many areas that government needs to tackle before it even gets into this space.
Thirdly, BARC is running late with every passing month and they will have to face hurdles to cross before the system is implemented, with all parties in sync and due benefits to all sorted out.”
Iyengar also pointed out, “Suddenly, even the MRUC report is being ridiculed (not to say it is accurate, but a big hue & cry is being made on the current report). Transparency in the media space is the need of the hour, which currently is being ignored as vested interests (read big networks, agencies and media houses) are trying to gain monopoly and control.”
The situation doesn’t seem to be favourable for TAM unless Kantar gets the stay order.