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NDTV-WPP war of words continues over ratings issue

BS Reporter  |  Mumbai 

The battle between New Delhi Television Ltd (NDTV) and the global communication giant, WPP Plc, took another turn on Monday, with the Indian broadcaster accusing the latter of avoiding answering the key questions raised by it over the “manipulation of television viewership ratings”.

On Monday’s statement is the latest in the war of words between the two sides that touched off after said it had moved court against alleged television data manipulation.

In a class-action lawsuit filed in the New York State Supreme Court on July 26, had named WPP as a defendant, along with and — the two equal partners in TAM India — a TV viewership research firm. In the lawsuit, accused TAM of fudging TV viewership data in favour of channels that allegedly bribed it.

On Saturday, NDTV had revealed it had received a mail from Eric Salama, chief executive officer (CEO) of Kantar, the market research, and consultancy division of WPP, on August 8 in which he suggested a halt to litigation.

It was a response to an interview by Martin Sorrell, CEO of WPP, in which he said NDTV lawyers had proposed a settlement. Later, WPP said Salama’s August 8 email was in fact a reply to an email by NDTV CEO Vikram Chandra on July 27, the day when the lawsuit was filed.

WPP disclosed the content of both Chandra's and Salama's mails.

“The email from Chandra, which WPP has selectively quoted from, was in fact the communication of the lawsuit to and Kantar. It was a lengthy mail containing details of the suit, the cause for damages and the reason why it was filed in the US,” NDTV said in a statement. “As is routine in such communications, it also contained an invitation to talk, together with the attached lawsuit.”

WPP had quoted Chandra as saying to Salama in the email: “Before we proceed with costly litigation, I write to ask if you would like to meet so we can attempt in good faith to resolve our differences. We can meet in India, London or the US, along with our lawyers.”

In on Monday’s statement, NDTV said it has no desire to get into a “prolonged trial by media” with WPP. “Our key intent in all these years has been to secure the cleaning up of the TAM ratings system. .. We would now urge WPP to avoid a further obfuscation of the real issues and to turn its attention to the basic facts that are contained in our lawsuit.”

First Published: Tue, August 28 2012. 00:09 IST