The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) is very clear that TV ratings is a matter that bears a larger impact on the broadcasting industry and what it finally presents to consumers in general. In light of the charges of corruption and monopoly, following the NDTV lawsuit against TAM Media Research and its parent companies, MIB has written to various authorities directing an increase in sample size and conducting a third party audit on the TV ratings system in India, simply meaning on TAM Media Research and its processes.
While the lawsuit itself is a matter in waiting given that both sides have made their appeals to the New York State Court, the latest being WPP’s move to request striking out of the complaint in its entirety in the New York State Court, in the Indian media and advertising industry, new developments are coming forth on a daily basis.
The News Broadcasters Association (NBA) had written to the MIB asking not only for a third party audit of TAM Media Research and its processes but also saying that unless all this was achieved, TAM data should be suspended.
MIB has in a sense responded to this request by writing to TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India) requesting the Regulator to recommend an accreditation mechanism for TV ratings in India. The MIB has also TRAI to frame guidelines in context to cross holdings in companies that are involved in TV ratings system in India. This is to address the allegation of monopoly of not just the ratings mechanism but its lineage back to the media buying companies in India.
Apart from this MIB has written to TAM Media Research and at least one of its parent companies The Nielsen Company demanding to know more its steps in context to the corruption charges made on the ratings system and the companies are doing to address the issue.
In a conversation with exchange4media, Uday Kumar Verma, Secretary, MIB stated that the industry is upset with the issues that have been raised on TV ratings, especially given the impact of this on the industry itself. The MIB too is seeking some answers due to the larger impact of ratings.
He said, “We have written to the concerned authorities on this, as we want to know what should be the next steps on this subject.”
MIB seeks to know from TAM specific steps to increase sample size in India and also for better coverage of towns and cities in order to ascertain better viewership data quality. TAM and Nielsen had a fortnight, from the day when the letter was written, to respond to these issues.
It may, however, be noted that the MIB yet has not suggested suspension of data until each of these steps are achieved. The way forward on that is still a ‘wait and watch’.