MUMBAI: The Indian government has introduced a regulatory framework to cover the design, implementation and delivery of TV ratings data in the country, but the final outcome remains unclear.

Research companies wishing to carry out TV ratings work will have to provide an initial minimum sample size of 20,000 homes, rising 10,000 in each subsequent year to reach 50,000.

In addition, research companies will have to register with the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, and will face ownership restrictions limiting the amount of equity that can be held by interested parties such as broadcasters, advertisers and agencies.

These stipulations will place pressure on TAM, the existing supplier, which currently operates a panel of 9,000 homes and is part-owned by WPP.

Observers doubted that TAM would be able to more than double its household sample within a month once the government issues an official notification.

"The time given to follow and make all the changes as per the guidelines is impractical," Sam Balsara, Madison World chairman & MD, told "It is obvious that TAM will not be able to handle it all at such a short notice," he added.

And Hemant Bakshi, chairman of the Indian Society of Advertisers, said he was talking to members about the possible impact on their businesses. In the worst-case scenario, TAM would fail to comply with the new requirements and be forced to cease operations, leaving the industry with no ratings at all for several months.

The Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) offers an alternative but a member of its technical committee did not anticipate the service being up and running until September or October.

"As an industry we need ratings, all the time!" said Balsara. "Therefore, till BARC comes up, we need an alternate. As an industry we should appeal to the ministry to relax the deadline for the implementation."

Data sourced from; additional content by Warc staff