Of the 15 points that have been spelled out by the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting convened Committee headed by FICCI’s Dr Amit Mitra, most points have a direct or indirect connection with TAM Media Research. One reason for this is that despite the advent of another player, TAM Media Research data is the single currency for the Rs 9,000 crore television advertising industry in India.
The entry of aMap had not impacted the buyer side of the equation. In the last few years though, the broadcaster’s wing had begun referring to aMap data from a daily viewership monitoring standpoint. It was interesting to note that the Committee has recommended that data should be released on a weekly, or possibly a fortnightly basis, and definitely not on a daily basis. This particular clause would impact aMap data as well, as in the current order, that is one differentiation that aMap offers.
At least two others recommendations would impact a business like TAM Media Research directly.
The MIB’s TRP Committee has recommended that there should not be any crossholding between the rating agencies and the broadcasters, advertisers and the advertising agencies to avoid conflict of interest.
As is known, TAM Media Research is jointly owned by Nielsen and Kantar, of which the latter is a WPP company. Some senior industry professionals explained to exchange4media that this clause would indeed affect TAM once the Committee recommendations are in action – the deadline for this, in a sense, has been set to be June 2011.
This clause of crossholding has been in conversations for the last two to three years, when the first discussions on regulations for television ratings began to take shape. But as is known, crossholding is not unique to this side of the business. From media owners to advertisers to agencies, the ecosystem of media and advertising has many examples of crossholding entities. Some cases in point in India range from Reliance, Zee and STAR to even an IBM.
It may be recalled that TAM Media Research came into existence 12 years back by data users comprising Indian Society of Advertisers, Indian Broadcasting Foundation and Advertising Agencies Association of India. Another senior agency head, on condition of anonymity, explained, “The industry knew what it was getting into at the time. TAM was the solution then, where two independent, globally established, audience measurement systems came and set up one single system in the form of a JV. When the users didn’t have crossholding as an issue at the time, why should another body or committee have it now?”
Speaking on the subject, Paritosh Joshi, CEO, Star CJ Network India, said, “It’s a noble thought, but let’s be clear -- there are a limited number of companies that can handle a project of this scale. If at some level, a parent or a grandparent company has a conflict of interest, it is a reality of the way the global market functions. Services such as these are structured. By suggesting disconnect, how is one supposed to go and dismantle them? Pragmatically, there may be ways of ensuring that there is no conflict of interest that may impact the functioning of the system and adequate steps may be taken.”
Divide & Distribute the Research Stages
The Committee has also recommended that the TRP measurement process should consist of four stages, in which the first stage should be designing of survey and quality control research, followed by commissioning and establishment survey. The third stage should be data analysis and report generation, followed by Audit. Each one of these stages should be separately commissioned to distinct agencies to achieve unbiased and reliable results.
This recommendation again impacts TAM, which at present handles the designing of survey, quality control, commissioning survey, data analysis and report generation stages. Once again, if and when the business model changes, media research companies in India include names such as TNS, Nielsen, Kantar or IMRB, all of which are technically TAM “family”. How the committee works on this on-ground, would be another interesting area to watch out for.
From a TAM viewpoint, despite these clauses, the Committee recommendations are positive as unlike the conversations a few months back, which almost meant putting an end to the current ratings system, and services such as TAM Media Research, these recommendations can make room for TAM’s services.
(Additional inputs by Fatema Rajkotwala)
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