Television news broadcaster NDTV has filed a lawsuit in New
York seeking injunction against publication of television
ratings by TAM Media Research and also compensation and damages,
a move that can have major implications if the allegations
are proved right.
The lawsuit has been filed against TAM, its parent companies
Nielsen and Kantar Media Research and senior officials of
the companies in the Supreme Court of the State of New York.
NDTV has demanded $810 million as compensation for the loss
in revenues it has suffered over the years and $580 million
in penalty for negligence by Nielsen and Kantar officials.
In the petition, NDTV has accused the companies of knowingly
allowing manipulation of viewership data in favour of channels
that are willing to provide bribes to its officials.
According to NDTV's complaint (a copy of which is with Indiantelevision.com),
"rampant manipulation" of viewership data has been
going on for at least eight years. "The loss of revenue
caused to NDTV on account of the false, fabricated and manipulated
data released to the public by Nielsen, Kantar and TAM over
the past eight years is not less than $810 million,"
This is a case, brought under New York State laws, of
negligence, gross negligence, false representations, prima
facie tort and negligence per se
This is also a case
of a once noble company, Nielsen
short term greed and reckless disregard of its duties and
of its noble origin. It is a case of the two largest audience
measurement conglomerates in the world, Nielsen and Kantar,
formerly competitors, operating worldwide through a deliberately
complex web of subsidiaries and joint ventures, creating,
at least in India, a monopoly and abusing the power of that
monopoly, the lawsuit reads.
NDTV has also stated that it presented evidences to Nielsen
and other parties and its senior officials promised to take
remedial actions. However, all promises to make changes proved
to be a "sham" and bad data continued to be released
"recklessly and in pursuit of profits."
a meeting NDTV had with Nielsen and TAM officials on January
20 2012, NDTV had arranged a detailed presentation by a whistleblower,
who was a consultant providing on ground services to TAM.
The consultant informed those present that he used to bribe
TAM personnel as well as peoplemeter homes in order to manipulate
ratings for TV channels and he was successful at doing so.
The consultant further stated that he was also able to bribe
TAM officials to select him as a sample PeopleMeter home and
had a PeopleMeter installed in his own premises.
has not disclosed the identity of the consultant in the lawsuit.
The 20 January meeting was also attended by Robert Messemer,
Chief Security Officer at The Nielsen Company.
NDTV is being represented by attorneys Adam Finkel and Rohit
"The primary reason that data could be so easily manipulated
in India was due to the persistent refusal of Nielsen and
Kantar to provide adequate funds for TAM to increase its sample
size and invest in the systems/quality/security procedures,"
the lawsuit says.
Apart from TAM, Nielsen Group, Kantar Media Research, WPP,
JWT, IMRB International, and the Nielsen directors are also
made party to the lawsuit.
NDTV claims that TAM is employing an inadequate sampling size
for the Indian market, and also of using inadequate security
measures to protect its data. It has also alleged that the
lack of security has led to an atmosphere of widespread corruption,
with different networks bribing sample households to watch
them, and TAM employees taking bribes in exchange for helping
to game the numbers.
The lawsuit lists 42 counts against Nielsen, Kantar, TAM and
other defendants, ranging from breach of fiduciary duty and
gross negligence to tortious and negligent interference with
prospective economic advantage.
TAM India doesn't comment on any litigation, said
a spokesperson of TAM, a joint venture of Nielsen, Kantar
and Cavendish Square Holdings B.V.
Earlier in 2001 Outlook Magazine and later in 2002 Zee Group
had carried exposes on manipulation of TAM ratings.