Business channel CNBC India today broke a story casting doubt on the efficacy of television peoplemeters in India, saying it was "not foolproof, not confidential and definitely open to manipulation."
CNBC reporter Naomi Dutta had with her the full list of 627 households supplied with peoplemeters that make up the sample population used by the two market research agencies - ORG MARG's Intam ratings and AC Nielsen's TAM data - to calculate television ratings points (TRPs) in the city of Mumbai.
The business channel's viewpoint is that the ramifications of a reporter getting hold of the list of members of the peoplemeter sample are enormous. "The reporter had no devious intentions," is the channel's view. "A motivated person getting hold of the list could doctor the ratings as and when they please."
Dutta was shown on CNBC today morning entering some selected households in Mumbai which had the elusive peoplemeters installed. The family members interviewed on the channel were quite comfortable with the use of the meters and most of the households shown had had the meters in their residences for at least two to three years.
Asked what benefits the they got from having the meters in their homes, the people interviewed said they got gifts from the ratings agencies during the festival season. Another observation is that the people interviewed were certainly not from the SEC A & B households that most media planners are sold on.
Among the industry people who were interviewed for their reactions was MTV India MD Alex Kuruvilla.