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Kantar gets stay on cross-shareholding norms; TAM can continue publishing viewership ratings

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NEW DELHI: While declining to stay Policy Guidelines for Television Rating Agencies in India, the Delhi High Court today directed that the sections relating to cross-holding will not come into force till the conclusion of the petition by Kantar Market Research Services, a shareholder of TAM Media Research, the only television viewership rating agency in India.

Fixing the next date of hearing for 6 March, Justice Manmohan also stayed sections 16.1 and 16.2 of the Guidelines, thus giving freedom to TAM to continue offering its ratings to its clients.

Taking note of the undertaking by Mr Mukul Rohatgi, senior counsel for Kantar, the Court said TAM would get another two weeks to get registered as required by the Policy Guidelines.



The Court also took note of the undertaking by Rohatgi that the full list of companies that are associated with TAM and their clients will be placed on the website within two weeks.

The sections relating to cross-holding which state that the same company cannot hold shares in both TRP companies and the media are 1.7a and 1.7d.

The earlier deadline for TAM Media Research to get registered under the Policy Guidelines was 15 February.

When Rohatgi insisted on a stay of the policy guidelines till conclusion of this case, Justice Manmohan and Additional Solicitor General Rajeev Mehra said senior counsel Harish Salve who had argued on behalf of Kantar yesterday had made it clear that he was only fighting the issue of cross-shareholding. In fact, Justice Manmohan said Salve repeated this point at least five times.

Rohatgi had sought to reiterate the point made by Salve that the policy guidelines had been issued through an executive action without any statutory authority of law.

While Rohatgi filed an affidavit today listing companies that have a holding in Kantar, he assured the Judge that the list of clients would also be place shortly on the website and filed in the court.

In his order, the Judge took note of the fact that both Salve and Rohatgi have argued that the guidelines are without the sanction of any statutory body.



Kantar had argued yesterday that any action relating to fundamental rights had to be done through an act of Parliament and not by an executive order.



Salve had said any attempt to regulate television rating agencies was tantamount to interfering with the freedom of speech and expression under Article 19(1)(a).

The provisions of Policy Guidelines for Television Rating Agencies in India that have been stayed are:

 

1.7 The company shall comply with the following cross holdings requirements.

 

 (a) No single company/ legal entity, either directly or through its associates or inter-connected undertakings, shall have substantial equity holding in rating agencies and broadcasters/advertisers/ advertising agencies.

 

 (d) A promoter company/member of the board of directors of the rating agency cannot have stakes in any broadcaster/ advertiser/advertising agency either directly or through its associates or inter-connected undertakings.

 

16. PROVISIONS WITH RESPECT TO EXISTING RATING AGENCIES

 

16.1 These guidelines shall also be applicable to the existing rating agencies.

 

16.2 No rating agency shall generate and publish ratings till such time that they comply with the provisions of these guidelines.

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