TAM Ratings Row: 5 ways to address the TAM imbroglio

As per media planners, b’casters and TAM need to build trust, talk the same language, & set up a working committee, among others, to resolve the impasse

e4m by Abhinav Trivedi
Updated: Jun 14, 2013 9:22 AM
TAM Ratings Row: 5 ways to address the TAM imbroglio

The tussle between TAM and Broadcasters reached a threshold when two major broadcasters MSM and TTL declared that they are un-subscribing from the TAM ratings. This is preceded by the lawsuit which was filed by NDTV in New York Supreme Court.

The decision which came into light on June 10, 2013 took the entire industry by storm. Soon after AAI and ISA, the standard bodies representing advertisers backed TAM and thrashed broadcasters for the decision.

We spoke to media planners, who ultimately finalize the media spends on broadcasters, industry experts who have a sound understanding of the economic and operational intricacies and few media veterans who have worked in the industry. Following points were concluded to resolve the present crisis:

Both should talk the same language:
Media planners feels that TAM and the broadcasters are talking in a different node altogether. While Broadcasters are not ready to comment in the open about the crux of the issues they have, TAM on the other hand is assuming that it is doing everything right it can and there is no problem from its side.  “Conversations with both the sides end in rationale which finally ends up demeaning the other one. This is not a rational way of solving problems. There has to be a resolve at the end. None of the sides can pretend that they know it all”.

Experts cite that a genuine problem of ratings disparity should be addressed and not lamented about. Both the sides should act maturely and address the issue.

TAM needs to address the issues now
Experts feel that it is high time that issues raised by broadcasters should be genuinely addressed by TAM. TAM as a body should be more vocal to the broadcaster about the methodology of measurement and how it can be improved. Be it funding, installation of people-meters or market ground research, TAM needs to take the bull by the horn and talk to the broadcasters.

“The nature of TAM’s job is such that it has to be unbiased and very transparent. It also has to be very rigid in its approach. This might translate to an act of arrogance or sternness by some broadcasters. TAM therefore should tone down a little and openly bring the genuine issues of the broadcasters to the table for discussions”, said a senior media planner.

Broadcasters need to trust TAM
Experts cite that channels need to be more patient and less impulsive while tackling such issues. The industry needs to understand that TAM was set up as an industry body, so it is a part of industry including broadcasters. They should trust it.

“A fact needs to be understood that TAM is a sample survey and not a census. The projections would be a sample of the viewership and not the exact viewership. Blaming TAM would be inappropriate. Broadcasters need to understand this”, said a senior media planner from Delhi.

Another media planner mentioned, “Just because broadcasters are the biggest stakeholders in TAM does not mean that they pressurize the entity. Economic slowdown, higher rupee has already curtailed the GDP growth of the country and made the environment bearish. Media Industry too is going through a lot of turbulence like digitization, 10+2 ad cap, etc. This is the time when changes are likely to happen. Channels should rise above their personal agenda and work towards the betterment of the entire industry which cannot afford slowdown this year after a steep previous financial year”.

Set up a working committee to address concerns
While conversing with e4m, LV Krishnan, CEO, TAM had suggested constituting a small body to work with TAM and introspect the areas where they (broadcaster &TAM) have a common concern. This suggestion has been endorsed by the media planners. They feel that this approach would be a better way to work and resolve the issues, rather than lamenting over the dismal state of work of either party. Data fluctuation may also be a result of changes happening on the ground. Letting the TAM just go won’t help. Both the parties need to sit together.

TAM measures viewership, not boost it
A senior media planner mentioned “Only those broadcasters have a genuine problem with TAM whose ratings have been consistently down or have gone down. This is not good. If channels feel the ratings are not transparent or are not actually representing their numbers, they need to discuss and establish a rational between their distribution data and viewership.”

They also cite a warning that being an industry mechanism; TAM has to maintain distance as well.  “At the end of the day, the job of TAM is to provide genuine viewership figures to the industry and not suggest how viewership of a channel can increase”, said CEO of a media agency in Delhi.

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