The Rs 4,800-crore television industry in India avails the services of TAM for gauging their TRP ratings. However, though TAM is the widely accepted tool to measure TRP ratings, the market today has another player, aMap (Audience Measurement and Analytics (P) Ltd), which gives out yesterday’s ratings today.
Now, the television ratings market is set to witness some more action in the future. The I&B Ministry recently expressed the possibility of allowing more agencies to get into the act of measuring viewership and viewing patterns in Indian TV homes. I&B Minister, Priya Ranjan Dasmunshi, on December 8, in reply to a question raised in the Lok Sabha had said that his Ministry was open to the idea of ensuring more coverage and allowing more sample surveys to make TRPs a complete exercise.
The issue calls for mixed opinion from the industry. Exchange4media has taken the exercise to bring forth the views of some of the industry bigwigs on the I&B Ministry’s decision.
For Chintamani Rao, CEO, India TV, it is difficult to accept the government’s role in the whole process. He said, “I don’t see what that has to do with government. Why should the government decide who should measure television audiences, and how? Does the government decide how many readership surveys and retail audits there should be?”
Raj Nayak, CEO, NDTV Media, however, felt there should be no restriction on anyone to set up a television rating agency. He said, “I always welcome competition. It is good for the business as it grows the category. Similarly, the customer gets a choice and better value.”
“With more players, the quality of research will get better. Each one will have to compete with the other to provide better quality. The industry will benefit with better service,” added Nayak. According to him, monopoly in any business was not good for the customer.
Echoing the same thought, Charles Berley Jenarius, Group CEO, Carat Media, said, “Competition is always good because it brings in choice for the user and drives quality, innovation and better value in the industry amongst the players.”
Rao, on the other hand, has a different take on this. He said, “I am opposed to having multiple measurement currencies. We had two some years ago, until TAM acquired INTAM, and there was no way to compare or reconcile the differences in their numbers. The funny part was that each told you at length why their technology was superior, and then one acquired the other and now uses both technologies.”
For Uday Shankar, CEO, STAR News, the real issue was not about the number of agencies we would have. Said he, “The real issue is not how many more agencies we will have, the real issue is we have to create one industry standard which everybody accepts not because that’s the only available or because of some force of law but everybody should accept it because of its transparency and because of the robustness of data and the sample that it provides.”
Basabdutta Chowdhuri, COO, Madison Media Plus, advocated the need for more meters than players. Though she felt that competition was healthy, priority should be given on making the sample size healthy.
On the likely competition ahead, Rao said, “If we as users have any sense, there will be only one service provider. But that does not mean I am a willing victim of monopoly. The only way is to have a single system, which is monitored by a user body and audited. The user body must call for a competitive review every five years. During its five-year term the service provider must appoint a process auditor who reports to an audit committee of a user body.”
When asked about the suggestions that government should take into account in the process, Nayak said, “There should be a fair representation of TV channels across genres and regional languages. The system should be robust with a fairly large sample size and more importantly it must be a transparent system with third party audit. There should be a website where anomalies or any other questions must be answered and opinions debated freely.”
Jenarius, on the other hand, felt, “The government could incentivise (for example, reduce duties on the import of meters) the industry to expand the width and depth of the studies so that greater number of geographies and audiences are covered.”