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TV viewership ratings to come under govt’s scanner

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SummaryNon compliance of the proposals would lead to forfeiture of bank guarantees worth Rs 1 crore.

In a clampdown on TV rating agencies, the government has decided to direct them to get officially registered with the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, significantly broad-base the size of the sample households used by them for the viewership surveys and submit the detailed methodology of the assessment mechanism followed by them to the government.

The proposal by the ministry, listed to come up before the Cabinet on Thursday, requires TV rating agencies to enlist at least 50,000 households for the surveys, up from a sample size of around 10,000 being used currently. The move comes amid complaints from TV channels on the alleged opaque methodology employed by the rating agencies to size up viewership. The Television Audience Measurement (TAM) flowed by the TAM Media Research has come under flak from some TV channels, which have accused the body of indulging in unfair trade practices and making viewership projections through a flawed methodology.

Accordingly, the I&B ministry proposal seeks to usher in “clear policy guidelines” and “defined” eligibility norms and obligations “to bring in more transparency”. Accordingly, all rating agencies would be required to obtain a registration. It has been suggested that panel homes to be enlisted for audience measurement shall be drawn from the pool of households selected through a survey. “The minimum panel size should be 20,000, which should be taken up to 50,000,” the ministry has proposed.

The move to scale up the sample size comes in the context of both the ministry and the television industry alleging that the present size of panel households (of under 10,000) followed by by the rating agencies does not adequately reflect the viewership trends in rural and semi-urban households. The rating agencies would have to ensure secrecy and privacy of panel homes while 25 per cent of the panel homes would have to be rotated every year, according to the proposal.

TAM Media Research is a joint venture between Nielsen (India) Pvt Ltd and Kantar Market Research.

Most importantly, the ministry has suggested that no single company or legal entity either directly or through associates or interconnect undertakings should have substantial equity holding that is 10 per cent or more of paid up equity in both rating agencies and broadcasters, advertisers and advertising agencies. This, according to officials, is aimed at preventing an entity from influencing ratings.

The rating agency will have to submit its detailed methodology to the government and would have to

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