The resumption of India's leading television viewership rating that helps advertisers decide where and how to put their money has been delayed, with the government asking them to hold the data on news channels.
After a nine-week hiatus without the data that measures television rating points (TRPs), the agency that measures viewers though its sample homes was supposed to resume its weekly reports on Wednesday.
However, on the request of the Information & Broadcasting ministry, the reporting has been deferred further.
TAM Media Research said in a statement that on the ministry's request and with the agreement of the Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF), AAAI (Advertising Agencies Association of India) & ISA (Indian Society of Advertisers), it was delaying the data release to Thursday or Friday.
"The reason for doing so is that the Government of India has requested us to withhold release of news channels data by two or three days. The industry is meeting with the ministry to take a decision. Thank you for your cooperation," the statement said.
TAM did not explain the government's call.
In New Delhi, information and broadcasting ministry officials said that the government had not enforced any ban on TAM to release its audience viewership data. They said broadcasters had urged the rating agency to hold back its data collection so that digitisation of cable television network in four metros can be synchronised into viewership rating to make it more realistic.
The government had problems with TAM ratings for television viewership on the ground that it did not reflect the reality on India's television audience.
The ministry was of the view that a digitised cable network can provide more realistic rating. However, poor response to ditigitisation in Chennai and Kolkatta had hampered the synchronisation.
The ministry officials said that the issue would be discussed with TAM and broadcasters on Friday and a possible way-out would be found.
An establishment study by TAM, called DAS-ES, which was started in May 2012 to monitor the penetration of digital set-top boxes through the digital implementation, threw up some startling findings.
The first phase of the implementation concluded on October 31 except in Chennai where the deadline was extended till the middle of November due a poor implementation of digitisation. The study saw varied success rates across Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai, the cities covered under phase 1 of the digitisation implementation. This study has been executed by Nielsen and IMRB.
According to DAS-ES, while Delhi has seen 97% digitisation in phase 1, Mumbai saw 93% and Kolkata 70%. Chennai, however, lagged pathetically at a mere 26% despite extended deadlines. What this means is that TAM will have to report both digital and analog data for Chennai simultaneously, while it will report only digital viewership data in the DAS (digital access system) assigned areas of phase 1 in the other three cities.
(With inputs from Chetan Chauhan in Delhi)