Some television channels pay bribes to have their viewership
ratings falsely boosted. Those who help the television channels
in subverting the ratings system are the ones who are supposed
to be the flag bearers of the television ratings agencys
are the allegations made by broadcaster New Delhi Television
Ltd (NDTV) in its lawsuit in New York against Nielsen, Kantar,
their Indian joint venture TAM and their senior officials.
basis of the allegations is revelations by a consultant, who
provided on ground services to TAM. NDTV claims the revelations
were made at a meeting of NDTV, Nielsen and Kantar officials
on 20 January 2012. Robert Messemer, chief security officer
at The Nielsen Company, was also present at the meeting.
has referred to the unidentified consultant as the whistleblower.
A whistleblower is a person who reports illegal activities
going on in an organisation. But the consultant is, in fact,
an approver having admitted to accepting bribes himself. The
consultant said he accepted bribes from TV channels and in
turn paid bribes to TAM officials and to some of the people
who have allowed TAM to install peoplemeters at their homes.
to the lawsuit, the whistleblower consultant told the officials
present that he was even successful in bribing TAM officials
to have a peoplemeter installed at his home. The norms disqualify
the consultant from having a peoplemeter deployed as the consultant
belonged to the television industry.
said the 20 January meeting was also attended by Piyush Mathur,
president, India region, The Nielsen Company.
subsequently said that at a meeting on 11 April 2012, the
representatives of Nielsen and Kantar had unequivocally
admitted that the information provided by whistleblower
consultant was highly credible.
has supported its claim of television channels paying a bribe
through the admissions of an unnamed employee of a broadcaster
that indulged in illegal gratification. It said on 24 February
2012, (the employee of) a broadcaster, whom it did not identify,
met NDTV officials Rahul Sood and Kirandev Hiremath.
broadcaster employee told the NDTV officials that his
channel was involved in corrupt practices to fix ratings.
He even named a cable operator from Hassan in Karnataka, who
acted as a consultant for fixing ratings for his channel.
support its allegation that TAM officials were prone to manipulation,
it has referred to a meeting its representatives -- Rahul
Sood, Sidharth Barhate and Anand Mohan Jha had with
two field staff members of TAM on 3 April 2012 at Ramada Plaza
Hotel at Juhu in Mumbai. NDTV has not named the two employees
in its lawsuit.
claimed the TAM employees told its officials that they were
willing to manipulate TAM ratings in Mumbai. The two employees
claimed to have manipulated ratings for other channels in
the past and were willing provide the same services
for any channel that was ready to pay the demanded
were confident that they could triple channel ratings of NDTV
in Mumbai over a period of two to three weeks in the required
target group. They said by paying a bribe of $250 to $500
per household per month, the TAM households could be made
to watch only those channels which they insisted upon.
said the Ramada Plaza meeting was viewed by an external surveillance
agency, which took photographs of the employees. Those photographs
were shown to Bob Messemer in New Delhi on 27 April 2012.
11 and 12 April, NDTV said its representatives were provided
information by Nielsen and Kantar officials that there were
cases of several field employees who had refused promotions
for last few years simply because at their current positions
their alternate source of income was higher than what their
salary would be on being promoted.
security chief had admitted that proper security practices
were not being followed by TAM and that theft and leakage
of data was rampant. He had also admitted that in India, the
entire system was corrupt from top to bottom, NDTV claimed.
to the meetings held in New Delhi in April 2012, Puliyel,
a director on the Board of TAM and a Kantar official, wrote
an evasive email on 19 April to NDTV, with copy
to Piyush Mathur of The Nielsen Company, merely mentioning
that there had been a board meeting of TAM and they were doing
some additional analysis on reporting samples by channels
to examine the threshold for reporting and frequency of reporting,
said there was no mention in the email whether the TAM board
had even considered stopping the release of what had
now been confirmed as corrupt television viewership
data, as was agreed at the meetings held on 11 and 12 April.
instances, if proved to be true, would mean TAM did little
to weed out corruption despite years of efforts of NDTV. TAM
would have also violated the Nielsen Code written in 1931.
Impartiality, thoroughness, accuracy, integrity, economy,
price, delivery and service are the hallmarks of the code.