Even as NDTV and WPP have taken the battle over the ratings lawsuit that the news broadcaster had filed against TAM Media Research and its parents Nielsen, Kantar and companies such as WPP, amongst others, to another level at the moment, the News Broadcasters Association has also put forth a few requests to the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting (MIB) listing out five points that it believes can be taken in “resolving this malaise with the intention to protect the industry and all its stakeholders’ interest”.
In a letter dated August 10, 2012 to the MIB and Minister Ambika Soni, NBA’s first suggestion is for MIB to order an independent third party time bound audit by a reputed agency to evaluate and measure the TAM systems and make the audit report public.
It may be recalled that TAM has made a similar audit suggestion to the Advertising Agencies Association of India (AAAI) and to the Indian Society of Advertisers (ISA) in the meeting that the AAAI and ISA had held on August 16, 2012.
NBA’s second suggestion is for the MIB to take efficient steps to correct deficiencies in the ratings system in India. The NBA letter indicates that comments on the widespread corruption amongst broadcasters, following the NDTV lawsuit against TAM and other related companies, are misplaced. However, the NDTV lawsuit has clearly quoted various instances where it has seen broadcasters participate in corrupt practices to influence the ratings mechanism.
The association has quoted to the Ministry the ‘Code of Practice in relation to Measurement Based Studies’ that it says its member broadcasters adhere to. “This Code was formulated and approved so that the use of measurement based studies by member broadcasters is carried out in line with highest ethical commercial practices,” the NBA letter said to MIB.
NBA has also suggested to the MIB to help build a robust, transparent and dependable rating system. This point appears to be on MIB’s agenda too as can be seen in the support that the Ministry has shown for the industry to finally kick off the much needed BARC (Broadcast Audience Research Council) in India.
NBA has also requested MIB to direct TAM to suspend reporting data until the above mentioned suggestions are undertaken. NBA has requested TAM Media Research in the past as well to change its data publishing frequency from a weekly to a monthly cycle but other industry stakeholders – advertisers and agencies – were not in favour of the decision stating that the move was regressive and would take the ratings mechanism in India a few steps backwards.
NBA’s final request to MIB is to continue to engage and work together on this issue and give the industry and all its stakeholders i.e. broadcasters, advertisers, distribution companies, etc.., the confidence to be able to consume data derived from such system.
“We believe these measures and initiatives from the Government will go a long way in addressing this long pending concern and we offer you our complete support in this journey,” said the NBA letter.
While NBA’s letter suggests to MIB that data from TAM Media Research is affecting broadcasters and their business adversely, the second point of view on the matter is whether the industry would function efficiently without a measurement metric in India. By now, most know there is more that would be discussed on the subject.