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TAM mess: Top advertisers give TV networks midnight deadline

Broadcasters, advertisers take strong positions on the issue of weekly versus monthly ratings

Urvi Malvania & Viveat Susan Pinto  |  Mumbai 

Some of the country's top advertisers, including Dabur, Hindustan Unilever Ltd (HUL), Marico, Procter & Gamble, L’Óreal, Godrej Consumer and Coca-Cola, will pull out their ads from eight large television groups beginning Tuesday. The move, the full impact of which will be visible in two days from the date of cancellation, follows nearly a month-long stand-off between the two sides over frequency of TV ratings to be given by service provider TAM Media Research to its subscribers.

The eight broadcasters are: STAR India, Multi Screen Media (MSM), Discovery, NDTV, Network18, Viacom 18, BAG and the ZEE Network.

Another 20 to 22 advertisers from auto, telecom and consumer electronics are expected to follow suit this Thursday (July 18) in protest against the demand for monthly ratings by these broadcasters.

A statement from the Advertising Agencies Association of India (AAAI), the apex body of ad and media agencies in the country, which has been firmly backing the advertisers, said: "Cancellation of TV releases by many advertisers on eight network groups that have insisted on unilateral changes is a natural outcome. More clients are following.” A Dabur India spokesperson confirmed his company was pulling out ads from tomorrow.

Weekly ratings has been the standard practice so far by TAM in the Rs 35,000-crore television industry. Since last week, the service provider no more provides weekly viewership data to the above-mentioned broadcasters, switching instead to monthly ratings. TAM is believed to have done so following pressure from broadcasters who stopped subscribing to its data. The monthly viewership ratings was said to be a compromise formula arrived at between the protesting broadcasters and TAM recently.

The move, however, raised the hackles of advertisers, with eight or nine of them, who are members of the Indian Society of Advertisers (ISA), sending letters to the broadcasters asking them to revert to the old practice of weekly ratings.

“What we have asked for is that we have had a system in India which has been in practice for the past 14 years. If at all we are making any change, it should not be done unilaterally, but in discussion with all stakeholders in the industry. Until we can be sure of the measurement system, we would like to continue with the old system of weekly ratings,” ISA media chairman Hemant Bakshi, who is executive director, home and personal care at HUL, the country's largest advertiser.

HUL, along with consumer goods peers Procter & Gamble, Dabur, Marico and Godrej Consumer, shot off letters on Friday (July 12).

But the broadcasters have not blinked yet. Barring Viacom 18 and NDTV, whose executives confirmed off-the-record of having received the first set of notices on Friday, the other broadcasters remained unavailable for comment. The AAAI and advertisers are believed to be in discussion with them on the issue. If there is no resolution, an ad blackout beginning tomorrow is inevitable.

Interestingly, the Indian Broadcasting Federation, the apex body of broadcasters in the country, has washed its hands off the affair, saying it exists between individual advertisers and broadcasters.

TAM has reiterated all along that it has no comments to offer on the matter.

While broadcasters have frequently questioned the methodology used by TAM to arrive at weekly ratings, the matter reached a head last year when NDTV dragged Nielsen and Kantar, partners in the joint venture that runs TAM, besides others, to court for allegedly rigging TV ratings.

In the furore that followed, broadcasters insisted on accelerating the setting up of the independent body, Broadcasters Audience Research Council, which would provide ratings as an alternative to TAM.




TAM-AGED RELATIONS
  • Dabur, Hindustan Unilever, Marico, Procter & Gamble, L'Óreal, Godrej Consumer, Coca-Cola to pull out ads from STAR India, Multi Screen Media, Discovery, NDTV, Network 18, Viacom 18 , BAG and ZEE Network beginning July 16
  • Another 20-22 advertisers from automobiles, telecom and consumer electonics sectors expected to follow suit this Thursday
  • Advertisers protesting against the demand for monthly ratings by these broadcasters
  • Under pressure from broadcasters, TAM stopped giving weekly viewership data to broadcasters since last week, switching instead to monthly ratings

First Published: Tue, July 16 2013. 00:50 IST
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