Ashok Das, president, ORG-Marg, has resigned from his post. The resignation will be effective March 31, 2002. While Das was not available for comment, the resignation has been confirmed by senior sources at ORG-Marg. His destination, however, is not known.
According to sources, the resignation comes in the wake of the redundancy of the media research wing of ORG-Marg, of which Das was president. The current developments are a culmination of the events set in motion in 1999, when VNU, the Dutch parent of ORG-Marg, bought AC Nielsen of the US. Since then, all fronts where ORG-Marg and Nielsen have competed have been consolidated. The prime among them were television viewership surveys (INTAM/TAM) and retail market audits.
The INTAM survey will come to an end this month. With the two agencies having merged last year, TAM and INTAM will start offering a single, unified television measuring system from the first week of July. TAM chief executive officer LV Krishnan will be the head of the merged services. On March 31, the INTAM service, which had been continued until now to facilitate the meter migration and system integration, will cease to exist.
"In this scenario, Ashok, if he had continued, would have to play second fiddle. For a senior professional like him, this was not a viable option," says a senior industry analyst.
Das, who is an engineer from IIT, Kharagpur, and an MBA from IIM, Calcutta, started his career with Exide Industries and subsequently joined IMRB. Soon after, he left IMRB to join ORG-Marg as manager and rose rapidly to become president. In addition to being responsible for the media research activities of the company, Das was also responsible for its international joint ventures. Agency insiders say, with the media wing losing its reason for existence, Das probably felt this was the best way out.
As senior research professionals in Mumbai point out in the current system, the continuation of the media research wing of ORG-Marg, would only have meant the duplication of data. While the fate of the media research staff of ORG-Marg is not clear, industry sources say that the most likely scenario is a complete winding up of the division, and the laying off of those who have not already joined TAM.
To put things in perspective, the television industry was divided between TAM, a joint venture between AC Nielsen and IMRB, and INTAM till 1996, when a Joint Industry Body chose TAM as the official currency for TV audience measurement. TAM and INTAM cover almost identical markets. They differ primarily by the technology used for capturing data. TAM uses frequency-tuned peoplemeters (they collect data based on a television's frequency bands) while INTAM employs largely picture-matching peoplemeters which scan pictures on the TV set that are then matched with reference sites.
The Indian National Television Audience Measurement (INTAM), which initially covered only 750 upmarket cable and satellite homes in five cities, was launched in the early nineties. The service was in technical collaboration with Taylor Nelson-AGB. Ironically, the current developments are a far cry from the negative perception that surrounded TAM, in mid-1999, when some advertisers, agencies and satellite channels praised rival INTAM for offering a superior product at a lower price.
ORG-Marg had also, under Ashok Das' tenure, quit the Indian Readership Survey (IRS) last year. The IRS, which is conducted by ORG-Marg in consultations with the MRUC, was born in 1995, and was carried out till 2001 by ORG-Marg. © 2002 agencyfaqs!