Race against time

Jan 28 2014, 09:02 IST
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SummaryThe Indian television broadcast business is seeing much strife, as one new measurement system struggles to be born, while another tries its best not to wither away. Tenacious guidelines have ensured that industry stakeholders do not have much time to set their house in order. Solutions in audience measurement need to be immediate or advertisers may have to enter into television ad deals blindfolded

Last week, an innocuous little ad given by Kantar Media Research in mainline newspapers coincided with the debut party of the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC). BARC, which was just a thought in year 2007 and was formally constituted only in year 2012, was gearing up to make a landmark announcement in television audience measurement with the France based Mediametrie. The advertisement by Kantar Media Research, part of UK based WPP Plc and one of the parents of television ratings company TAM Media Research chose this very day, to remind readers of the ratings firm’s many achievements in the Indian market and why it was not a monopoly, though it certainly was the preferred currency.

The ad talked about the recent guidelines on television audience measurement framed by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) and approved by the Union Cbinet, which advised that television rating agencies need to have multiple owners in order to avoid conflict of interest and that no single entity can have paid-up equity in excess of 10% simultaneously in both a rating agency and a broadcaster, advertiser or advertising agency. Parts from the ad go as follows: “TAM Media Research was created 15 years ago at the request of Indian advertisers, ad agencies and broadcasters. They suggested that Kantar and Nielsen – the two global leaders in television audience measurement – come together to form a joint research company to provide measurement data, using their global expertise and technology. It is a myth that TAM is a monopoly. Over the last few decades, several companies have provided television measurement data and alternatives exist. However, the fact that the data is a ‘currency’ means that customers typically prefer to have one supplier. The involvement of international parent companies in TAM was demanded by the Indian advertising industry: their expertise provides the latest technology, investment and expertise in television measurement.”

Kantar Research has now filed a writ petition against the government of India in the Delhi High Court, stating that the new guidelines will put Tam out of business. Thomas Puliyel, president at IMRB International, part of Kantar Group said, "There has been a lot of innuendo and uninformed discussion on TAM, its methodology and technology. The purpose of the announcement was to set the record straight and put the facts to all our stakeholders. We have talked of our commitment to the business over the

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