TAM Media Research, the sole Indian TV viewership monitoring agency, will release the TV ratings for individual news channels on January 9.
The ratings agency was earlier asked by the information and broadcasting ministry to not disclose the news channels’ data individually, when it was to release the data of all the genres starting from October 7.
The decision was taken on Monday, when the three industry bodies — the Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF), Advertising Agencies Association of India (AAAI), and the Indian Society of Advertisers (ISA) — reached an agreement. The News Broadcasters Association (NBA) had already given their consensus on releasing their individual channels’ data for the suspended period after a gap.
It was an unprecedented move where TAM was asked by the industry bodies and the ministry to suspend the release of viewership data for nine-weeks, as the government-mandated switchover from analogue signals to the digital addressable systems (DAS) was under way in the four metros of Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata and Chennai.
Later, while TAM was supposed to issue the data on December 19, NBA put forth a demand of not releasing individual data. So, when TAM released data for the weeks 41-50 on December 24, it clubbed the news genre viewership data with the Others’ category, which also include genres like shopping and religion.
TAM said that the suppression of ratings data on news channels is purely a “temporary request” from the industry. “The retrospective data for the same period of weeks 41-52, for all the news channels, will be de-suppressed and released normally (individually) to all subscribers with the data release of week 1, 2013 on January 9,” it said.
When asked why news channels don’t want TAM to release individual data, a senior executive of a news outfit explains, “We and many other news broadcasters are in the process of finalising the carriage deals with the multi-system-operators (MSOs) for the placement of the channel and we wanted a level playing field. Hopefully, within two weeks, the deals will be signed. But, if the data would have come before, the margin of error could be disastrous. We just wanted them to wait till things stabilised. Anyway, the genre share of the news genre is too small in the overall TV viewing pie and we get disproportionate ad share based on the impact.”
The data for week 51 on and week 52 of 2012, which will be released on December 27 and January 3 respectively, will not have ratings for individual news channels either. The news genre will continue to come under the Others’ category till then.