NEW DELHI: After an extended gestation, India's new TV ratings system looks set to roll out from the end of next month, with a number of industry bodies advising members to switch to the service offered by the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC).
This marks the end of a story that began almost two years ago when several leading broadcasters wrote to TAM, the local television rating agency, asking that they be removed from the system. At that time one declared: "This measurement system is broken and we cannot keep paying for it."
At the heart of the dispute was the broadcasters' unhappiness with the way data was collected.
And now M G Parameswaran, the president of the AAAI (Advertising Agencies Association of India), has confirmed to Exchange4Media that a circular has been distributed to members urging them to subscribe to BARC data. The AAAI is a stakeholder in BARC, along with the Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF) and Indian Society of Advertisers (ISA).
While TAM is not mentioned by name in this communication, members are advised that "business prudence would require that you review and close off on any of your existing arrangements".
The IBF is understood to have already issued a similar advisory with the ISA likely to do so soon.
The timing of the switch – in the middle of the India Premier League – has the potential to test nerves, and the memory of the problems surrounding the introduction of a new Indian Readership Survey (IRS) is still fresh.
A year ago the new-look IRS had to be suspended less than a month after its launch after publishers complained about "shocking anomalies" in the data.
A cautious Parameswaran said that "any new system will have its own challenges", and that the BARC team was fully aware of these.
"The IRS experience has been a great learning for all of us," he added. "Hopefully we will have fewer challenges."
Data sourced from Exchange4Media; additional content by Warc staff