Is there something fishy in the way popularity of television programmes is measured in India?
Leading private viewership measuring company Television Audience Measurement (TAM) Media Research on Thursday said it has been giving gifts and financial incentives to people to install meters at their homes to gauge popularity of television programmes.
Although there is nothing wrong in such incentives, this raises doubts on whether these households, so important for rating programmes and consequently having a bearing on advertisement revenue, were being influenced by certain private broadcasters.
TAM denied it, but there have been allegations that these homes were being revealed to broadcasters, helping them to influence the ratings of their popular programmes.
TAM uses 7,000 households in cities with more than one lakh population to collect data.
L.V. Krishnan, TAM CEO, admitted to giving gifts at a meeting called by telecom regulator TRAI to seek suggestions from stakeholders to revamp the television rating points (TRP) system in India.
Several broadcasters and cable operators doubted the credibility of the firm’s TRP methodology at the meet following which TRAI member A.K. Sawhney asked Krishnan whether TAM was giving gifts to install meters. Krishnan said giving gifts TV sets at times was necessary. “Without that it would be difficult for us to install the meters,” he said. But he denied allegations that this caused any manipulation in TAM data.