Times have been rough for TAM Media of late, with the ratings agency facing intense scrutiny. The fresh set of guidelines for TV rating agencies in India laid down by the Union Cabinet, based on the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting’s (MIB) recommendations, bring more worries for TAM.
The guidelines, approved by the Cabinet on January 16, 2014, highlight several important features, but there are points that could prove to be worrisome for TAM:
• 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
• Panel homes for audience measurement shall be drawn from the pool of households selected through an establishment survey. A minimum panel size of 20,000 to be implemented within six months of the guidelines coming into force. Thereafter, the panel size shall be increased by 10,000 every year until it reaches the figure of 50,000
The issue of panel homes is still workable for TAM, and as per sources, installation of more people metres are in the pipeline.
The directive regarding equity holding could prove to be a problem and puts a question mark on managing the stakes of Nielsen and Kantar Market Research, the parent companies of TAM, in the ratings agency.
Nielsen and Kantar have got just 27 days in hand to divest their stakes and operate with 10 per cent share each if they wish to operate in India. This will be an uphill task since significant investments have been done over the last 14 years.
Meanwhile, broadcasters have speeded up the process to get the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) up and running at the earliest. It may be recalled that broadcasters had the MIB on January 16, 2014 to update the Ministry about the Council’s’ progress. They informed the MIB that BARC may be ready for service by the middle of 2014.
Meanwhile, BARC is organising a press conference in Mumbai on January 20, 2014 to make some key announcements.
For the record, TAM Media Research is a joint venture between Nielsen (India) and Kantar Market Research. Appointed by the joint industry stakeholders of ISA (Indian Society of Advertisers), IBF (Indian Broadcasting Foundation) and AAAI (Advertising Agencies Association of India) in 1998, the raison d’etre for TAM (Television Audience Measurement) is to be the central industry provider of media and consumer insights to the various stakeholders of the Indian media and entertainment industry - advertisers & marketers, media owners, media agencies and the academia.