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Kantar says TAM to apply for registration within time given by Delhi HC

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MUMBAI: We had last reported that Kantar Market Research Services, one of the shareholders of India’s only TV ratings agency TAM, got a stay from the Delhi High Court on the provision regarding cross-holding of shareholders in the regulations for television ratings agencies.

The court had asked Kantar to ensure TAM complies with the rest of the provisions in the regulations and granted it time to apply with the ministry of information and broadcasting for registration as a television ratings agency.

TAM was allowed to apply for registration in two weeks from the date (15 February, 2014) the regulations came into effect.

Kantar is confident that there will be no delays from TAM’s side in submitting its registration application to the MIB.

Speaking on behalf of TAM, Kantar CEO Eric Salama says, “We are seeking to comply with all the terms of the regulation, cross ownership aside, in the specified period. We will be applying to the Ministry and will not be asking for any further extension.”

The court has also allowed TAM to continue publishing its television ratings till it decides on Kantar’s petition. The court will further hear the case on 6 March. And Salama hopes wiser counsel will prevail on the issue of cross-holdings in TAM. Says he: “As long as the system is transparent so that the same data is released at the same time to all users and there is suitable governance, the shareholding structure makes no difference to the outcome and shouldn’t be an issue.”

If the court finally rules against Kantar and TAM has to stop churning out its ratings, advertisers will be without any viewership data till the industry-backed Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) gets its act together. BARC recently announced that it will present a blueprint of how its viewership ratings monitoring system will work by end-March 2014. It hopes to roll out data to clients by 1 October 2014.

Asked what if the HC rules against Kantar's appeal and it has to restructure TAM’s shareholding to comply with the regulation,  an optimistic Salama says, “I obviously hope that the court will rule against the cross-ownership clause and enable us to progress without a blackout period.”

 

For those who came in late, the government’s regulations require television ratings agencies to comply with the following clauses:

1.1 The applicant seeking registration for providing television rating services shall be a company registered in India under the Companies Act, 1956.  

1.2 The company shall make full disclosure, at the time of application, of Shareholders Agreements, Loan Agreements and such other Agreements that are finalized or are proposed to be entered into. Any subsequent change in these, having a bearing on the foregoing Agreements, would be disclosed to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, within 15 days.

1.3 The company shall have, in its Memorandum of Association (MoA), specified rating services or market research, as one of its main objectives.

1.4 The company’s MoA shall not include any activity like consultancy or any such advisory role, which would lead to a potential conflict of interest with its main objective of rating.

1.5 Any member of the Board of Directors of the television ratings company shall not be in the business of broadcasting/ advertising/advertising agency.

1.6 The Company shall have a minimum net worth of Rs 20 crores. The net worth shall be calculated as per the prescribed proforma and shall be certified by the Statutory Auditor of the company.

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 more than one ratings agency operating in the same area.

(b) The cross-holdings restriction will also be applicable in respect of individual promoters besides being applicable to legal entities.

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