Government concerned about TAM data: Ambika Soni

09 Aug,2012

By Vijaya Rathore


The government has been concerned about the discrepancies in TAM Media Research’s TV viewership data for a while now, and has even questioned their methodology and transparency, Union information & broadcasting minister Ambika Soni said on Wednesday.


In an exclusive interview to ET, Ms Soni said that she always had issues with the number of boxes put up by TAM, as it (such a small number) was not enough to gauge the mood of a diverse nation like India.  “I have asked questions about the methodology of TAM. I knew that they were not being transparent. When it came to the number of boxes, rural areas were not covered. Very populated states such as UP and Bihar were not covered.


So, I felt that 7,000 boxes could hardly be indicative. How can you put boxes as conveniently as you want to and not cover more than half of the country?” the minister asked.


Following NDTV’s lawsuit against Nielsen and Kantar Media – the co-owners of TAM Media Research – the I&B ministry has decided to support Prasar Bharati, the state broadcaster and the Directorate of Advertising and Visual Publicity (DAVP), the government’s media buying arm, to take legal action against TAM. Ms Soni said that the ministry is also open to support the broadcasters “provided they lodge a formal complaint with the government against TAM.”


NDTV has filed a lawsuit against the companies in a New York court alleging TAM fudged TV viewership data to favour a few broadcasters for a bribe. Both NDTV and TAM have refused to comment on the issue.


Concerned by the developments, broadcasters and advertisers are now asking TAM to stop publishing its data, and have been meeting the government on the issue.


“Today everybody is talking about TAM… why didn’t we talk about it all this while? The issue was raised by the ministry and me several times in the past. I am glad that this issue is now coming out in the open, as this clearly shows that there is need for competition,” Ms Soni said.


According to the minister, lack of transparency in TAM’s system does not only concern broadcasters, advertisers and media agencies, but also Prasar Bharati that operates Doordarshan and All India Radio.


“Prasar Bharati is collecting facts and the figures and finally even they decide to put up a lawyer. We will have to allocate resources for which permissions have to be taken. If Prasar Bharati and DAVP feel that they have to take a legal action (against TAM), they will do so in consultation with the I&B ministry and the law ministry,” she said. In 2011-12, DAVP’s advertising spend was Rs 618 crore.


Ms Soni said that there is a need to have an alternative to TAM, which is why Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) is underway: “We have had several meetings with the Indian Broadcasting Federation on BARC. I have had four meetings (from 2010-12).”


Asked if she thought a tighter regulatory mechanism needs to be evolved to check such discrepancies in future, the minister said, “There have been  suggestions for setting up regulatory bodies for content, and to censor realty shows, but the government is against any strong regulatory mechanism and we are for self-regulation.”


Source: The Economic Times

Copyright © 2012, Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd. All Rights Reserved


Post a Comment 

Comments are closed.