Industry questions govt review of TV ratings

MUMBAI: The Information & Broadcasting Ministry‘s initiative to set up a committee under Ficci secretary general Amit Mitra to review the Indian TV ratings system (run by AC Nielsen‘s offshoot TAM) in the country is not being looked at favourably by the industry.

Most advertising, marketing and media professionals spoke to said that the committee is not needed and the ratings issues should be left to the industry to deal with appropriately.

Leo Burnett chairman Arvind Sharma noted that the issue has been debated since quite some time. “It (ratings) is best left to the media and advertising fraternity as TRP is a currency which has been used by advertising agencies and there is nothing for the government to do here,” Sharma opined.
Times Television Network MD and CEO Sunil Lulla is also not clear on what the government wishes to achieve and what its objective is.

“I do not believe the government needs to get into reviewing TV ratings. The process of audience ratings measurement is best when independent. It is managed by businesses which have scale, expertise and independence,” Lulla said.

Meanwhile, he agreed on the need of collective feedback. “Broadcasters, including Prasar Bharati, advertisers, agencies, production houses et al, all participate in the subscription of the ratings measurement process and provide individual or collective feedback on a constant basis,” Lulla added.

However, he also hinted at the need of an industry body and the institution of another ratings system. “There is always scope to significantly enhance and improve the process. This should be done independently and perhaps competitive forces are best to induce such change,” he said.

TME president Divya Radhakrishnan pointed out that the committee does not have any member from media; that is those who actually pay for the TAM reports. “I do not know how much value these members will add to the media monitoring system. Also, what is the need to review the working of an independent body?” she asked.

She also pointed out that even if the government wants some regulation in the process, why only television. “Segments like print and outdoor are completely unregulated. If they (government) want to put a check on TV ratings, why not add print and outdoor also?” she questioned.
Meanwhile, contrary to the media and entertainment industry, Aegon Religare director- branding and communication Pradeep Pandey said that the government‘s move is a step in the right direction. “The government has been asking for broadcasters, advertisers and other stakeholders to think and act progressively. And the committee is also independent in nature with all the members being experts in their domain. So I see no harm in forming such a committee,” Pandey noted.

On the present ratings system, Pandey said, “We are genuinely interested in accurate data. Not that the current data is inaccurate, but if there is an independent committee which is working for more transparency and towards increasing the size, the step in such a direction is welcome.”
A broadcaster requesting anonymity admitted that "TAM data has been questioned in the past and sometimes there are allegations on the authenticity of data, and such a step can ensure clean research data.”

However, he also pointed out that for the committee to be effective, “it needs people from the industry who have knowledge and people who carry influence, rather than just bureaucrats.”

When asked for a comment, a Tam spokesperson said, “We are currently observing this and if need be, we will come back with an appropriate response.”

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