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STAR India and Network18 unsubscribe from TAM

The parent group of TV18 and Viacom18, and STAR India have broken ties with TAM.

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Network18

Joining the league of broadcasters withdrawing from TAM subscription are the biggies of the broadcasting industry - Network18 (TV 18 and Viacom18) and STAR India. In both cases, top officials from the networks confirmed the move.

Both the broadcasting groups have sent out request letters to TAM to unsubscribe from the service.

The other broadcasters that have pulled out of the ratings include Multi Screen Media, Sri Adhikari Brothers, New Delhi Television (NDTV) and Times Television Network.

The Network18 groups owns channels including CNN-IBN, IBN-7, CNBC Awaaz, CNBC-TV18, IBN-Lokmat (JV of Lokmat and TV18), Homeshop18, HistoryTV18 and Viacom18's channels MTV India, Nick, Sonic, Nick Jr, VH1 India, Colors.

Meanwhile, STAR India has channels such as Star Plus, STAR Gold, STAR Jalsha, Jalsha Movies, STAR Pravah, STAR World, STAR Movies, STAR Utsav, STAR Vijaym Channel [V], STAR Movies Action, Life OK, Movies OK, STAR Vijay and Asianet.

The broadcasting networks have been pulling out their subscription from TAM this week, following their unhappiness with the way the ratings agency has been functioning. Tension between the broadcasters and TAM is not new but has generally been confined to niche channels, especially the news broadcasters. This is the first time that large channels, such as the GECs, are part of the protest since they have not complained publicly in the recent past about methodology or sampling inadequacy.

Multi Screen Media was the first to opt out, followed by NDTV and Times Television Network, and later by Shri Adhikari Brothers. Whether or not this walkout has anything to do with TAM's recent inclusion of LC1 markets (towns under a population of one lakh) is not clear.

The Advertising Agencies' Association of India (AAAI) and Indian Society of Advertisers (ISA) have come out in support of TAM and have said that they will continue to use TAM data. But with so many channels dropping out, a compromise will be difficult to engineer.

The alternative industry initiative, the Broadcast Audience Research Council, will take some time to get its act together. How buying and selling for television time will take place until the first quarter of 2014, when BARC rolls out its data, is hard to see. As confrontations go, this is one of the most dramatic ones ever in the television business.

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