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Guest Article: Lynn de Souza: NDTV vs Nielsen - Symptom of a dangerous disease

By Lynn de Souza , Mumbai | In Media Publishing | August 02, 2012
The lawsuit is in fact a deadly symptom of a disease that has crept into the media and advertising industry, where competitive pressures lead to a disproportionate erosion of value, both financial and ethical.

The NDTV versus Nielsen lawsuit isn't just a very serious response of a frustrated network that got no answers after years of searching. It isn't about who is right and who is wrong, and who will be proved right and who will pay the price.

Lynn de Souza

It is in fact a deadly symptom of a dangerous and insidious disease that has crept into the media and advertising industry over the past decade - a decade which has seen business growth and competitive pressures lead to a disproportionate erosion of value, both financial and ethical.

The disease is called "Vested Interests", and it has become pandemic. There is little that can be done, in any sphere, without encountering the deadly manifestation of the vested interest. It pervades the talent pool, the media currencies, the editorial columns, the industry associations, the deluge of conferences and seminars, the awards - the list is endless.

Vested interests prevented BARC from doing anything concrete or substantial for several years.

Vested interests prevented the formation of a genuine joint industry body for readership measurement for more than a decade.

Vested interests keep some agencies away from participating in awards they have little respect for.

Vested interests allow media currency surveys to be influenced in that haloed ground called the 'field', and vested interests make other vested interests turn the blind eye.

Vested interests influence those that have influence - ranging from young journalists to senior industry leaders.

It has become so rare to meet anyone who is willing to do anything for the genuine good and growth of the industry. Put a bunch of sincere, bright eyed, talented people together and ask them to deliver the next TV audience measurement tool, and within a short time, they will be submitted to pressures of all kinds - enough to make them leave their best intentions at the door.

It will take an almost missionary zeal on the part of a few well-intentioned individuals in our industry to take on the might of the vested interests. Hopefully, there are some of this breed around, who still have the courage of integrity, and the character of persistence, that will be required to overcome disillusionment and pressures of all kinds.

I don't know how much an expensive law suit will achieve. I don't think it is the cure or even the preventive. Beyond a point, you cannot fight manipulative minds with threats and money. You can only fight them with straight minds. Maybe a handful of really honest and greatly gutsy and committed people, who are willing to pull out all the stops to clean up a decade old infestation, is the answer.

The author is chairperson and chief executive officer, Lintas Media Group.