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Kantar opposes IBF’s impleadment in the TV ratings agency guidelines case

MUMBAI: WPP-owned Kantar Market Research Services (KMSR), which has challenged the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting’s (MIB) TV ratings agency guidelines in the Delhi High Court, has opposed the impleadment of the Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF) in the matter.

However, the HC has asked Kantar to file its reply to the IBF application within two weeks. The IBF can file its response within two weeks thereafter.

Meanwhile, the Delhi HC has adjourned the matter to 12 February 2015, which is also the day when the court will decide on the IBF’s intervention application.

The matter was adjourned as the Kantar counsel had on personal ground prayed for a date sometime in January 2015, a request that was granted by the HC. The interim order restraining the government from taking coercive action against Kantar will remain in effect.

The IBF had filed an application on 21 July to become a respondent in the case. Currently, the Union of India (UoI), Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) and News Broadcasters Association (NBA) are the three respondents in the matter.

The HC bench headed by Justice Manmohan had on 12 February stayed four clauses in the ‘Policy Guidelines for Television Rating Agencies in India’ pertaining to cross-media ownership, thereby preventing a rating blackout.

The UPA government before demitting office had notified the guidelines to bring TV rating agencies under the regulatory framework.

As per the guidelines, no television rating agency can have an ownership structure where there is a conflict of interest. They will have to have multiple owners, as under the guidelines no company will be allowed to hold more than 10 per cent equity in a TV rating agency as well as in broadcasting, advertising or an ad agency venture.

The wholesale reform will also include a minimum panel size of 20,000 homes within six months of the guidelines coming into force and a scale-up of 10,000 every year till it reaches 50,000 homes. One-fourth of the panel homes will have to be rotated every year.