Some industry experts say that it is interesting to notice that only those broadcasters have a problem with the contemporary ratings system whose ratings have been low or have plunged. They also cite that ratings have reduced to a broadcaster currency rather than being an advertiser currency. LV Krishnan, CEO, TAM, a joint venture between Kantar Media Research and Nielsen, spoke exclusively on the issues surrounding TAM and said that the agency is open to competition as it would bring more transparency in the system.
Excerpts from the interview:
Industry is alleging that TAM has got a very low sample size. What are your views on the same?
The key question is what is an ideal sample size? More than two years ago, TAM worked closely with FICCI Amit Mitra Committee report to arrive at the projected sample size of 30,000. We are still waiting for the funding. For the last 15 years, we have been the central and neutral TV Audience Measurement service. The key point here is that we were appointed by the industry stakeholders – advertisers, broadcasters and media agencies, with a promise of getting funded.
While we specialise in research, conducting and operating it requires funds. My question is why is TAM always blamed for small sample sizes? We have over these years built the sample to 9500 people-meters with whatever funding we could muster from our parent companies and subscribers. Today we cover 225 towns in urban India, covering the entire urban landscape of North and West markets. Why is nobody speaking about what TAM has achieved for the industry even without any guaranteed funding? Good technology and large sample sizes require funds. Let industry open more funds, we will deliver their dreams.
There are also questions raised over TAM’s lack of transparency and unclear methodology. There have been reports that industry is unclear about TAM’s projection of data...
What is their definition of transparency? If it means being transparent about methodology, we have always made sure that our methodologies are vetted by industry bodies and individual stakeholders before they are implemented. Take the latest case of DAS I rollout. TAM has been in constant touch and discussion with the Core Industry Committee (CIC) on methodology and its implementation. TAM took them through the detailed dynamics of data generation and reporting. It was only post that, the data was released for usage. The documents were circulated for everyone for reading and comments. More so, during the last 15 years, all documents pertaining to methodology have been shared with the industry constituents attached to reports such as the Mitra Committee, TRAI reports, and made available on the company website.
So, if they really had a problem with us, why don’t they tell where the problem in methodology is? No one person has come to us with a perspective on methodology in the last so many years.
Is the joint industry body, which was constituted to evolve consensus between stakeholders, not functional anymore?
For years now, at industry forums or during one-on-one client meetings, TAM has been appealing to industry clients to create a central wish list or a common brief of aspects that it would like TAM to address. The idea was that post their revert, we were to submit a blue print of Television Audience Measurement. This would cover the required sampling, methodology, technology, etc. Unfortunately, years have passed, and not a single common brief has reached us. Having said this, this never discouraged or stopped us from re-attempting to get broadcasters and advertisers together for this purpose!
So what is the way forward?
Till the time work of BARC kick-starts, industry should constitute a small body to work with TAM and introspect the areas where they have a common concern. TAM has always been transparent and will always be so, except for its town list and panel homes. It needs facilitation in the right direction. TAM went on to attempt creating a separate panel of transparency member team with global experts. The industry can very well take advantage of this committee to suggest ways in which TAM should improvise the exercises it conducts continuously.
Are you open to competition in the ratings system?
Yes, of course. That will bring more transparency and the system would work towards the betterment of the entire ecosystem.