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Prasar Bharati alleges TAM rating anti-competitive

Press Trust Of India/Kolkata 19 Nov 12 | 12:55 AM

Public sector broadcaster Prasar Bharati has moved the CCI alleging that Television Audience Measurement (TAM) agency is abusing its dominant position by not carrying out audience measurement in a fair manner.

"On Friday (November 16) we received information from Prasar Bharati alleging anti-competitive practise by TAM. We will consider the matter through the week and if prima facie it makes a case, we will ask the Director General (Investigations) to probe the allegations," a senior official told PTI. When approached, Prasar Bharati CEO Jawahr Sircar confirmed having filed the complaint, but did not provide details. Sources in Prasar Bharati said that in the complaint filed with the Competition Commission of India (CCI), it was alleged that TAM was 'limiting the provisions of audience measurement services'.

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It was also alleged that while there were more than 20 million TV households in the country, TAM installed meters in only 8,000 homes and that too in the cities that had a population of more than one lakh. The agency completely kept out rural as well as smaller towns. "They are restricting the market by not carrying out technological advancement and thereby abusing their dominant position," the sources said.

TAM could not be contacted for reaction.

The sources said the complaint was filed under section 4 of the Competition Act 2002, which pertains to abuse of dominant position by a market player. The decision to move the CCI against TAM was taken at Prasar Bharati's board meeting in September this year.

According to sources, the board had felt that the matter was quite serious in nature and if after further examinations it was seen that defects in the rating system had led to damages, steps should be taken to recover them. The Information and Broadcasting Ministry has been asking advertising and broadcasting associations to speed up the Broadcast Audience Measurement Council (BARC). Broadcasters feel that the problems related to television viewership measurement would be solved once the industry's own audience measurement initiative BARC was fully established. Earlier, New Delhi Television Limited (NDTV) sued TAM, a joint venture between Nielsen and Kantar Media Research, over its rating methods in a New York court.

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