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TV industry heading for a rating-dark period

MUMBAI: The television broadcast industry is heading for a rating-dark period. While the door will shut for TAM Media Research, BARC’s entry will possibly happen in April this year.

According to multiple sources, the Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF) has decided to terminate their subscription with TAM, currently India’s lone TV rating agency. Other industry bodies—Indian Society of Advertisers (ISA) and Association of Advertising Agencies of India (AAAI)—are also finalising the termination of their subscription with TAM.

All this is to make advance payments to the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC), which is expected to roll out its rating system by the mid or end of April. However, what this also means is that between March and April, the industry may have to make do without any TV ratings.

“The roll-out of the BARC ratings has got delayed due to the delay in the IRS data. This has escalated the cost and BARC, in turn, has asked its stakeholders, the three industry bodies, to pay advances. This has led to the three players thinking of terminating their contract with TAM,” a source told TelevisionPost.com.

Preferring anonymity, another broadcasting industry executive confirmed that the decision to sever ties with TAM has been finalised. “The IBF has taken the decision and we will be sending the notice to TAM to terminate the contract in a couple of days,” he said.

Top advertising executives have also confirmed that the industry is indeed heading for a rating-dark period. “There have been meetings between agencies and advertisers. The ISA is on this and the ratings could stop by March till BARC gets operational,” he said.

When asked about the impact, considering there will be important events like the ICC Cricket World Cup, IPL and the launch of a new Hindi general entertainment channel (GEC) &TV from Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd (ZEEL) in the months of March and April, he said that the industry will have to live with it. “Earlier also the industry had seen a rating-dark period for two months and that was during the festive season,” he said.

In October 2012, the three industry bodies had reached a consensus to suspend TAM data temporarily (for nine weeks) in the wake of Phase I of digitisation in the four metros of Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai.

At that time, TAM had deferred the viewership data starting Week 41 (7 October) of 2012 until Week 49 (8 December). It later released all the data on 19 December.