THE TELE­VI­SION RAT­INGS GAME IS BRO­KEN BE­YOND RE­PAIR

The in­her­ent flaws in TAM has re­sulted in the dumb­ing down of TV con­tent. Hence NDTV’S de­ci­sion to sue The Nielsen Co is a step in the right di­rec­tion

Tehelka - - PROS&CONS -

HERE IS a rea­son to be­lieve that the le­gal suit that NDTV has filed against The Nielsen Co is based on an in­ves­ti­ga­tion con­ducted by Nielsen’s own global head of se­cu­rity, a for­mer FBI of­fi­cial. This re­port sug­gested that Tele­vi­sion Au­di­ence Mea­sure­ment ( TAM) In­dia op­er­a­tions were among the most cor­rupt in the group. NDTV will use Nielsen’s own in­ter­nal re­port to make its case. Per­haps that’s the rea­son why NDTV chose to file the com­plaint in New York where Nielsen has its head­quar­ters.

This is not the first time that peo­ple have been un­happy with TAM. In Novem­ber 2010, Amit Mi­tra, for­mer di­rec­tor gen­eral, FICCI, and cur­rent fi­nance min­is­ter of West Ben­gal, headed an eight­mem­ber com­mit­tee that pub­lished a re­port de­tail­ing the flaws with tele­vi­sion view­er­ship mea­sure­ment. There are some in­her­ent prob­lems in try­ing to mon­i­tor which chan­nels the viewer is watch­ing and for how long, re­gard­less of the meth­ods used. For ex­am­ple, one could keep the TV on and leave the room, but the me­ter records that some­body is watch­ing that chan­nel. The peo­ple-me­ter is not an in­tel­li­gent enough de­vice to mon­i­tor such is­sues. This is just one of the many in­her­ent prob­lems with a sys­tem like TAM.

The more se­ri­ous prob­lem about TAM is its reach. It reaches only 0.0001 per­cent of the to­tal tele­vi­sion view­er­ship. There are an es­ti­mated 130 mil­lion tele­vi­sion sets in In­dia, com­pared to 8,150 mon­i­tor­ing units (peo­ple-me­ters), which makes the ra­tio ab­surdly low. Not only is the sam­ple gen­er­ated re­ally small, it is not rep­re­sen­ta­tive of a di­verse coun­try like In­dia, an­other ex­am­ple of the in­ade-

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