Regulators

TV ratings: Ownership & FDI questions

http://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/default/files/styles/smartcrop_800x800/public/images/regulators-images/2014/01/14/TAM.jpg?itok=9uI-xvar

MUMBAI: To have foreign direct investment (FDI) in TV ratings or not, that is the question. And the recently-cleared TV ratings guidelines by the Cabinet Committee of Economic Affairs (CCEA) have brought this to the fore by their silence on this score. While announcing that the CCEA had given the go ahead to the ministry of  information and broadcasting (MIB) last week to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI)-recommended  guidelines for a regulatory framework for TV ratings in India,  minister Manish Tewari had this to say.

?In so far as FDI is concerned we would make a separate reference to TRAI with regard to the quantum and need of FDI that should be permitted in ratings agencies. After the TRAI recommendations, the question of allowing FDI would be looked at. So as we speak, no FDI will be permitted in TV ratings agencies till we don?t have a recommendation on it."

Although the 2013 recommendations do not have any mention of FDI, it is noteworthy to point out that TRAI's 2008 consultation paper on TV ratings does. The paper says that stakeholders feel that FDI should be restricted to 20 per cent in a TV ratings agency.  It also goes on to suggest that since no security issues were involved and little or no competition was prevailing (only two agencies existed at that time ? TAM and aMap  and no regulation existed), that it would be okay of no if no FDI limit was imposed.  "Generally FDI encourages world class technology and international best practices," TRAI had stated in the paper.

So even as the TRAI was of the opinion that FDI was all right in 2008, in 2013 it gave the issue an ignore. Currently FDI limits for broadcasters are 100 per cent  for non-news and current affairs channels, for news channels 26 per cent, for cable TV 74 per cent, for DTH 49 per cent, for print 26 per cent for general news etc.

Tewari stated that the question of FDI would be looked at after the TV ratings guidelines are notified by the ministry. Could the earlier recommendation of 20 per cent work as a guideline today? Or is the government going to be averse to FDI totally?

Let us take a look at the other major guideline of cross holding in the TV ratings provider. The guideline states very clearly:  ?No single company/legal entity either directly or through its associates or interconnect undertakings shall have substantial equity holding that is, 10 per cent or more of paid up equity in both rating agencies and broadcasters/advertisers/advertising agencies.?

If one looks at the holding pattern of Mediametrie - the French ratings agency - which is soon to be announced as the Broadcast Audience Research Council's (BARC's) ratings partner,  France Televisions holds 22.89 per cent equity in it, TF1  10.8 per cent, Radio France 13.5 per cent and Union des Annonceurs 11.77 per cent.

France Televisions in turn owns 49 per cent of TV5 Monde while AEF (formerly called France Monde) that runs France 24 owns 12.6 per cent of France Televisions. Quite a convoluted holding structure, but clearly one where broadcasters could be owning more than 10 per cent equity in the TV ratings provider.

However, BARC officials are quick to clarify that it is BARC which will be providing the ratings and not Mediametrie. The latter is only a technology supplier and ratings are being outsourced to it. It owns no equity in the ratings company which is BARC. Hence, the question of more than 10 per cent equity ownership by broadcasters in Mediametrie is irrelevant and there will be no violation of TRAI's guidelines, they emphasise.

BARC, on its part is a non-profit organisation under section 25 of the Companies Act, with nominated representatives from the Indian Broadcasting Foundation, Indian Society of Advertisers, and Advertising Agencies Association of India. In a response to TRAI's consultation paper, BARC had stated that even though the three may have conflicting interests in the ratings process, its articles of incorporation clearly state that "each has an equal voice in the design, and monitoring of the rating system, and in the administration of BARC, irrespective of the funding pattern."

TAM, on the other hand, has woes on both fronts as it not only does not comply with the FDI guidelines it also is has issues on the cross holding guideline as it is owned jointly by the WPP group and AC Nielsen. It is even listed on the WPP site as one of its companies.

The key question that everyone is asking at the time of writing is whether TAM Media will move court against the guidelines, as they have come into force so many years after it has been operating in India with the equity and cross holding structures that it has. Or will it give up the fight and pack up just like Coca-Cola did in the seventies, when the government ordered it to reduce the FDI in it to 40 per cent.

Latest Reads

http://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/default/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2018/12/12/MIB-Broadband.jpg?itok=YfPsTbrr
MIB to hold MSO conference on 18 December

Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB), through Broadcast Engineering Consultants India Ltd (BECIL), is organising a conference of MSOs, the cable TV industry representatives, that will be held on 18 December in New Delhi. The discussions will pertain to several issues related to broadband...

Regulators I&B Ministry
http://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/default/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2018/12/11/tdsat.jpg?itok=kIf9-v7K
TDSAT gives 30 days to Tata Sky, IndiaCast to sign agreement

Direct to home (DTH) operator Tata Sky and TV18-owned content distributor IndiaCast Media have got another 30 days from the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) to enter into a content agreement under the ongoing legal spat between the two regarding a disconnection notice.

Regulators TDSAT
http://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/default/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2018/12/10/Sunil-K-Gupta.jpg?itok=or6ypF7L
TRAI secretary Sunil K Gupta explains need for tariff order

After several twists and turns, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s (TRAI) new tariff order crossed its last legal hurdle in the Supreme Court on 30 October. Now, with less than one month left for the implementation of the regulations, several questions still concern the industry stakeholders.

Regulators TRAI
http://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/default/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2018/12/08/trai.jpg?itok=z2G-2VQA
TRAI extends deadline for comments on OTT consultation paper

India’s telecom and broadcast regulator TRAI released a new consultation paper last month on OTT services seeking to expand the definition of the sector and also the regulator’s jurisdiction over a sector till now “unregulated”. The deadline for receiving comments on the consultation paper has been...

Regulators TRAI
http://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/default/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2018/12/08/mib.jpg?itok=Kzf1iXym
MIB proposes to strengthen govt-citizen interface

Months after a country-wide uproar and nudges from the judiciary forced the Indian government to shutter a Big Brother-type initiative involving tracking of Indians’ digital footprints, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting is taking another shot to “understand citizen views expressed publicly...

Regulators I&B Ministry
http://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/default/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2018/12/08/FDI.jpg?itok=vXiDm30i
MIB mulls national b'cast policy to ease stakeholders' woes

India’s Ministry of Information and Broadcasting is exploring formulating a national broadcast policy or NBP with an aim to ease lengthy and time consuming government processes that media and entertainment industry players have to go through while conducting their businesses.

Regulators I&B Ministry
http://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/default/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2018/12/07/amit.jpg?itok=1lszKH_5
New DTH policy bonanza for operators likely by year-end

If all goes well, India’s DTH operators may have something to cheer about in the new year.

Regulators I&B Ministry
http://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/default/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2018/12/07/court.jpg?itok=mgFwLERD
TRAI tariff issue back in Supreme Court

The twists and turns in the case of a new tariff regime being sought to be implemented by broadcast and telecoms regulator TRAI continues. It has filed a petition in the Supreme Court on the issue of 15 per cent cap on discount on a bouquet price of TV channels to consumers that had been set aside...

Regulators TRAI
http://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/default/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2018/12/06/mib.jpg?itok=FXyBYG-T
MIB secy Amit Khare advocates self-regulation in media

Making a strong case for self-regulation, Ministry of Information & Broadcasting Secretary Amit Khare today said it was a better regulatory approach for India’s media and entertainment sector.

Regulators I&B Ministry

Latest News

Load More

Sign up for our Newsletter

subscribe for latest stories