IBF, AAAI, ISA to meet TAM on digitisation issues

MUMBAI: As the deadline for digitisation in the four metros nears, advertisers are worried about TAM coming under pressure from the government and the broadcasters not to report viewership data from cable TV homes which do not have digital connectivity from 1 November.

The broadcasters have made it clear that they want viewership data from analogue cable to stop in the metros of Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai which come under the first phase of digitisation from 1 November. had earlier reported that major broadcasters and multi-system operators (MSOs) have agreed to switch off genre-wise analogue signals of television channels in phases ahead of the 1 November deadline for digitisation in the four metros.

In the coming week, the Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF), the Advertising Agencies Association of India (AAI) and the Indian Society of Advertisers (ISA) are meeting with television ratings provider TAM Media Research in Mumbai to discuss about this and other issues.

Leo Burnett South Asia chairman and CEO, AAAI president and Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) chairman Arvind Sharma, who is currently abroad, informed via a text message that the meeting will most likely take place sometime next week.

A TAM official told, "Our standpoint is very simple. We have not made a decision yet. All the decisions will be taken only after a common consensus from all the three stakeholders of the industry. As of now, we will be meeting the three bodies and I hope a common ground is reached during the meeting."

The government has suggested that TAM should not report viewership data on any channel that has been fed via any non-digital signal.
The advertising industry is worried that if a significant number of cable TV homes do not get set-top boxes (STBs) installed and continue to receive television channels the way they receive now after 31 October, the viewership data reported by TAM based on digital homes will be incorrect.

Reporting of skewed data by TAM would make it impossible for advertisers to carry out post campaign evaluation. Also, digitisation deadline happens to be just before the Diwali festival, ahead of which advertising peaks.

The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting on 19 September said 68 per cent of the cable TV homes in the four metros had switched to digital reception of television channels. In its further push to complete digitisation in the four metros, the ministry has even suggested that broadcasters withdraw analogue channels genre-wise before 1 November.

The TAM official said, "At the end of the day, we are service providers. We hope the three stakeholders (AAAI, ISA and IBF) reach a consensus on issues in the upcoming meeting."

ZenithOptimedia CEO Satyajit Sen said, "The advertisers of course want the ratings to continue coming in. The money is coming in on the basis of that so there has to be a declaration of ratings. If the ratings are not there, there will be no benchmark available to the advertisers."

When contacted, ISA Secretary General Y Harikrishnan declined to comment saying, "I am not in a position to comment on this."

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