TAM has suggested the appointment of a security officer and a security agency that can overlook and cross-check the work procedures of TAM ratings. It has asked for an expansion in number of meters in the existing six top metros; a research process review by the industry to determine what TAM informs in its weekly reports and to understand what meter homes are left out of reporting for being data outliers. It has also asked the industry to get the outlier homes independently audited, for an internal audit team to be put in place as soon as possible and also for a faster panel rotation.
Speaking on the issue, Bharat Patel, chairman, ISA and Arvind Sharma, president, AAAI said, "As key users of audience research data, advertisers and advertising agencies need to know facts directly from the research agency. And if there are challenges at any level in the research, the research agency needs to share its proposed action plan with us."
They further added, "We look forward to a speedy implementation of the six action steps outlined by TAM. With the formation of Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) on the anvil, it will be appropriate for us to request BARC to review if these steps are adequate."
The industry unanimously agrees that these are some of the most basic measures that the industry and TAM should have taken a long time ago.
"The Indian TV industry, which is worth about Rs 10,000 crore, presently stands on a monopolistic system. And it's sad that there is no cross-checking body formed yet which can look into the working procedures of TAM. I am glad though that the decision has been taken now and I hope that we can now diligently move ahead on these actions," says Sudha Natrajan, founder, TMC Corporation.
Anita Nayyar, CEO, India and Southeast Asia, Havas Media, however, feels that the action taken on increasing the number of peoplemeters would have to be a 'wait-and-watch' game. "At any given time, there cannot be an exponential increase in the number of peoplemeters; also, there has to be a fixed upper limit, a fixed point on the number of peoplemeters that needs to be installed and engaged. So, how does one decide on those numbers?" she asks.
Meanwhile, Sunil Lulla, MD and CEO of Times Television Network, continues to be upset with TAM's latest action plan. "I don't know whether to laugh or cry. The measurement system was created for the entire industry, wherein the broadcasters are the key customers. And we all have been asking for transparency on the ratings for too long."
"However, I do agree that this will only hasten the process of getting BARC completely functional," he added.