NDTV-TAM war impact may be seen in print if Nielsen is appointed IRS research vendor

28 Aug,2012

By A Correspondent


Measurement has suddenly become a bad word in the Indian media. Over the last month, there has been much sound and fury over TAM Media’s television ratings with news network NDTV filing a 194-page lawsuit in New York. Since last week, the channel and WPP, principals of TAM’s part-owner Kantar, have been sparring via statements issued to the media.


But now MxMIndia learns that there could be rumblings in the print space too, over the appointment of the research company to conduct the unified Indian Readership Survey.


The Board of the Media Research Users Council (MRUC) which manages the Readership Studies Council of India (RSCI) is scheduled to meet today and announce the results of the contract following the RFP (Request for Proposals) issued last year.


In a departure from the prevailing system of the research body being a partner and pocketing 85 percent of the revenues earned from sales, in the proposed system, the researcher was to be vendor being paid a flat fee. Hansa which has been conducting the study for MRUC since around eight years tied up with Ipsos and presented a joint proposal demanding a fee of Rs 10 crore. Nielsen’s original proposal was of Rs 12 crore, but the research major has been beaten down to a little below Rs 11 crore.


However, ever since the news of the appointment of Nielsen was leaked last week, it appears that the controversy plaguing the television media research space could well lead to rumblings in print if it is indeed Nielsen which will be awarded the contract.


MxMIndia too learns from its sources that Nielsen will indeed be appointed vendor for the IRS. The relationship is not of partnership as of now, but that of a client-vendor, where the research company has to undertake the exercise as per a set of instructions and for a fee. A global tender was issued and a technical committee carefully pored over each of the proposals. Various proposals came in but were rejected. The Hansa-IPSOS proposal reportedly did not find favour with the decision-makers because of the consortium modeit followed. It is believed that there was opposition to Hansa from some quarters.


An MRUC member this correspondent spoke with raised some alarm. “While the work put in by the technical committee is commendable and selfless, they ought to have considered the mess that Nielsen has been in thanks to its co-ownership of TAM Media. The 194-page lawsuit sees the firm getting noteworthy mention. Moreover, there have been question marks over the retail audit too,” he said on condition of anonymity. “But it would be wrong to jump to conclusions on Nielsen’s appointment. If it is indeed true, we will raise the questions and convince ourselves. We clearly wish to be certain of the new vendors’ expertise in newspaper readership measurement – either globally or in India. We can’t afford to have any publisher, advertiser or agency questioning the measurement exercise and the bona fides of the vendor as has been the case with television.”


That last bit we agree with. The WPP statement came in at 10.43 pm IST last night.


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