TAM’s moment of truth

MUMBAI: The Ministry of Information & Broadcasting (MIB) has finally put its stamp on the TV rating guidelines and the government order is already out on the Ministry’s website for all those who want to read it. The bottomline of the ratings order coming out is that TAM has to shape up or ship out.


As per the TV rating guidelines which were given the cabinet’s nod last week, TAM has to work a miracle to meet them in the time frame that it has been given. There are several guidelines, but the most challenging appear to be ownership and expanding the people meter sample to 20,000. That too in a ultra slim  period of just 29 days if it wants to continue to be in the business.


According to a highly placed industry source, TAM's stakeholders will have to meet sooner than later to decide on what its next course of action should be. “It is a major decision it has to take: whether to take on the might of the law and the government; its move will have to be very calculated,” says the source.


Industry insiders think that TAM’s options have narrowed down further as compared to earlier when it was playing the waiting game; waiting to see if the MIB will pursue and pass the order. Today it has two choices: either it approaches the court for some relief and gets a stay on MIB’s diktat, which will give it some more time to try and fulfill the guidelines; or, it will have to wind up its business, which is not going to be easy, considering how much it has invested in ratings, and the number of staffers on its rolls.


The Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) had met the Ministry on Thursday, 16 January to update it on the progress it is making. However, the Council also tabled a request in front of the Ministry to allow TAM to exist till BARC is ready. That’s because with TAM on the blink in 29 days, there will be no ratings till October 2014, when BARC says its ratings will be up and running.


The industry has been pushing TAM to go to court to get the stay; but it seemed reluctant to move ahead then. Now, with the time bomb ticking away, the urging from industry will only get stronger.


Whether the ratings agency will move ahead on industry’s goading is a big question mark: its CEO LV Krishnan is sure to have memories of the caning he has been getting from broadcasters over the years. They have always complained TAM ratings are suspect; even as recently as last year, a bunch of them took him to the cleaners, threatening to shut off the subscription pipe to it. Advertisers and agencies kind of stood by him, but he had to face most of the flak.


Will LVK do it this time too when TAM’s moment of truth has arrived?

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