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
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-