Sorry, but Kantar’s spokesperson knows nothing about the petition against the Govt of India

23 Jan,2014

By A Correspondent [updated]

It’s possibly our ignorance that we didn’t figure that the ‘Like to know more?’ contact in the Kantar ad on Monday was none other than that of IMRB International’s Group Communications Manager – Shweta Ratnaparkhi.

We had published the news on Monday that TAM was likely to go to Court against the Government of India on the issue of the guidelines towards television audience measurement.

We’ve often backed TAM in the war that many have been waging against the measurement body. We believe that the government’s policy on crossholding is flawed. And that if there’s a problem with crossholding on measurement than so must it be for a newspaper or newsmagazine owners also running news channels or radio stations.

We believe the various stakeholders paying for TAM’s services and representatives of the three key stakeholders ought to have been sitting together periodically from the last 15 years so that there was no gap in the expectations.

We also have a strong view about the government’s FDI policy in the news media. So even as the I&B ministry believes that a majority or 100 percent stake in news and current affairs media  — print and television – cannot be permitted, it has allowed fully foreign-owned media buying and planning agencies knowing fully well that media agencies can significantly impact the financials of newspapers or news channels and hence potentially influence them.

The esteemed spokesperson did not respond to a direct question on whether her company has taken her country’s government to court.  Hey, there’s nothing illegal in giving out a piece of information. Last evening, IndianTelevision.com had scooped the story on the government being taken to court. The story’s first version named TAM, but that was later corrected to Kantar.

The Economic Times today reports that the “writ petition filed by Kantar on January 20 said the new guidelines have put the existence of TAM at risk even though the ratings agency has operated in the country for over 15 years”. ”The petition argues,” the reports adds, “that with the new guidelines restricting cross-holding in TV rating agencies, TAM would have to shut shop in the country”.

While the hearing has been adjourned to next week (Jan 29), Kantar has been asked to submit documents relating to its shareholding by then.

We too received the information from a reasonably reliable source – that Kantar had taken our government to Court. We tweeted about it.

But in order to give more info, we needed a copy of the petition or an official confirmation. When we spoke to Ms Ratnaparkhi, she refused to disclose any information on the legal procedure her company has initiated.

The lady must realise that by doing so she’s only forcing journalists to wonder whether she’s trying to hide something.  And even look beyond TAM.

Like do the government guidelines also impact Kantar’s tie-up with Tata Sky on the return path data audience research service ? In April last year, Kantar Media Partners had announcement the commencement of this service that measures the behaviour and viewing habits of Tata Sky’s rapidly increasing number of pay TV subscribers. Since the guidelines pertain to all television audience measurement, the Tata Sky tie-up can also be affected.

But, of course, Madame Spokesperson won’t answer this question. Or possibly any other. Sigh.

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