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No TV ratings blackout as Kantar gets a breather from Delhi HC

NEW DELHI: Much to the relief of broadcasters and advertisers, the Delhi High Court forestalled a blackout of television ratings by granting interim relief to Kantar Market Research Services (KMRS), one of the co-promoters of India’s only audience measurement agency, TAM Media Research.

The HC bench comprising Justice Manmohan stayed four clauses in the ‘Policy Guidelines for Television Rating Agencies in India’ pertaining to cross-media ownership.

Additionally, the bench gave more time to Kantar to comply with the remaining provisions of the guidelines. It asked Kantar to register itself within two weeks under the new policy guidelines.

The bench also directed Kantar to upload a list of affiliated advertising companies on its website along with the list of its major clients.

The case is slated for hearing on 6 March which is when the three respondents—Union Government, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) and News Broadcasters Association (NBA)—will commence their arguments in the case.

The Delhi HC interim order saved TAM from a possible disqualification for failing to comply with the cross-media holding provision of the TV rating agency guidelines that will come into effect from 15 February. The guidelines were notified by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) on 16 January.

The court has already completed part hearing in the case with Kantar led by its counsel Harish Salve presenting its case.

Kantar’s principal argument was that the guidelines were not part of any law as it was an executive decision which should have been implemented only after getting Parliamentary approval.

It had also contested the cross-media restriction prescribed in the guidelines, contending that the restrictions would result in closure of TAM and force Kantar to sell its stake in the rating agency.

The industry, it had argued, would have to function without any ratings if the guidelines were allowed to come into force. Kantar had challenged the guidelines on 20 January.

Kantar had earlier stated that it would comply with the guidelines minus the cross-media ownership restriction. The company had also stated that TAM is prepared to scale up its panel size to 20,000 plus people meters as suggested by the government.

Also read:

Kantar gets stay, Delhi HC to hear the case on 6 March
No relief for Kantar as Delhi HC asks govt to file reply; hearing on 11 Feb
Kantar takes TV rating issue to Delhi HC; ordered to file affidavit on shareholding