NEW DELHI: The Advertising Agencies Association of India (AAAI) has warned that a move by several leading broadcasters to withdraw from TAM, the local television rating agency, could lead to a "collapse" in TV as an advertising medium. 

The Economic Times reported that NDTV group, Sony Multi-Screen Media and Times TV Network had written to TAM seeking to remove themselves from the system.

And, according to Livemint, a leading figure at one of these networks, speaking anonymously, said: "This measurement system is broken and we cannot keep paying for it."

Arvind Sharma, President AAAI and chief executive of Leo Burnett India, said that broadcasters around the world often had issues with measurement systems and argued that was not a reason to abandon them but rather to improve them.

"The move by broadcasters to discontinue with ratings is ill-advised and not in the interest of advertisers, advertising agencies or broadcasters," he stated.

"It will lead to overpaying and underpaying of advertising time, both of which will lead to a collapse of TV as an advertising medium," he added.

A statement from the AAAI outlined the need for an established ratings system that allowed advertisers to buy airtime with confidence and that enabled agencies to carry out analysis to effectively reach a brand's target audience.

A new rating system is planned under the auspices of the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC), but, Sharma noted, those were "some time away and until they are released it is critical to continue with the current system".

Several media buyers indicated their intention to continue using TAM. "Ratings are based on a sample survey and not a census, so there will be estimation errors but that does not mean the rating system should be stopped," said Sam Balsara, chairman of Madison Communications.

The issue of measurement was raised by broadcasters at the recent FICCI Frames conference when Uday Shankar, chief executive of Star India, complained he did not know how many viewers his network catered to.

"How can this industry move forward without knowing basic facts such as these?" he demanded.

And a more recent clash between broadcasters and agencies over billing methods led to TV commercials temporarily being taken off the air.

Data sourced from Economic Times, Livemint; additional content by Warc staff