NEW DELHI: It was just a week ago that one of the shareholders of TAM – Kantar Market Research decided to move the High Court against the TV ratings guidelines. Now, as the case was taken up in the Delhi High Court today, the issue has become a little clearer.
According to the HC, Kantar won't get a stay order on the petition for now just because the deadline to make the TV ratings guidelines is effective from 15 February. However, Judge Manmohan said that Kantar’s case will be heard again on 11 February and a final decision will be taken then.
Counsel for Kantar, Harish Salve argued that the stay order was necessary as the guidelines were not framed under any statute of law. Additional Solicitor General Rajeev Mehra, appearing on behalf of the Union of India, said that the guidelines had been recommended by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) which was a statutory body. The judge also remarked the same. Both Mehra and the counsel for TRAI accepted the notice and agreed to file their affidavits within time.
The other big development in the case was the inclusion of the News Broadcasters Association (NBA) also coming as an intervener and joining the case as the third respondent apart from the Union of India and the TRAI. NBA counsel, A J Bhambhani pointed out that TAM only covered about 8000 homes in India, which doesn’t cover all the TV homes and thus isn’t a complete survey.
Interestingly, the judge curious to know why instead of TAM approaching the court, a stakeholder Kantar has taken the step. To this, Salve said that the move was taken as Kantar is a major shareholder in TAM and the guideline related to cross holding affects Kantar and not TAM.
Responding to a question posed by the judge, Salve said that TAM had nothing to gain by pushing up the TRPs. Its clients were advertisers and broadcasters and not the common viewer. Any rigs in ratings would be strongly protested against, he said. Salve also brought to the fore that regulations or guidelines need to be placed before the Parliament for approval.
The case will now be heard once again on 11 February with Kantar fighting it out against the government, TRAI and the NBA.