The Audience measurement and controversies go hand in hand for a very long time. TAM, the erstwhile audience measurement company was accused of being biased and not projecting an accurate measurement of viewership owing to a small size of samples vis a vis the universe of television viewers.
After protracted efforts an Industry Body BARC has been ushered into replace TAM measurement and since been recognized as currency for advertisement sale and purchase of air time. BARC has improved the sample size, redefined the targets and by and large claims to have the support of the Industry. However, the controversies and the accusations thrown at TAM are now being thrown at BARC.
While by and large across the country the anomalies are found in the viewership ratings released by BARC, particularly it is significant in Southern Indian Markets, more specifically in Tamilnadu market. Though it was expected that BARC will rewrite the viewership pattern and report the real viewership in a market dominated by Sun group of Channels, it was found that Sun Group continued to rule the roost even after enhanced sample size which was supposed to provide the level playing field for the competing channels.
The over all viewership pattern of Tamilnadu viewers have not changed but for meagre changes and growth of a few channels getting reflected in more regular intervals than before under TAM regime. However, along with this came a barrage of complaints too.
There were specific channels who have been accused of manipulating data and hence the viewership for specific programs in specific markets. It has also been alleged that even production houses were involved with the research agencies operational arm in manipulating data. The accusations were found to have substance when one looked at the viewership numbers for certain channels which enjoyed the comfort of being cohort with the managers of panel homes.
In recent times the trend is expanded to genres other than GEC where the meat of advertising money is present to even News Channels. Tamilnadu owing to the political turmoil that it is witnessing for the past few months (say 12 to 18 months) have seen a sudden interest of viewership in News Channels never witnessed before. This has seemed to encourage some of the News Channels to dirty their hands in fixing viewership for themselves. Unlike the GEC, the News Channels thrive on non-exclusive content and the only factor being the credibility built by the News Channels vide their standing in News arena determined their primacy in the regular course. The sudden burst in viewership saw even toddler News Channels without distinctive and differentiated content have claimed to the top of the chart leaving the well reputed channels run by News Media Houses to the bottom of the chart. There are channels that call themselves as News Channel but are only a Tabloid of information yet remaining on top of the chart. Those who were familiar with Tamil vernacular magazines can understand the difference between “Kumudam” and “Kalkandu”.
After having analysed the data for long, distinctive patterns of manipulation is seen by these News Channels in acquiring viewership. Presented below is a Table that shows the growth and viewership of Channels in the Chennai Market (which was taken up for study) under the TG NCCS ABC M 22+, that is disproportionate to the availability of the channels in cable networks and vulgarly looking time spends which makes one roll and laugh.
TABLE A: TG NCCS ABC M 22+
|Week – Chennai||News 18 Tamil Nadu||News 7 Tamil||Polimer News||PuthiyaThalaimurai||Sun News||Thanthi TV|
TABLE B: TG NCCS ABC M 22+
|Week – Below 75L||News 18 Tamil Nadu||News 7 Tamil||Polimer News||PuthiyaThalaimurai||Sun News||Thanthi TV|
It is pertinent to note that PuthiyaThalaimurai and Polimer News are not available on SCV, a network which even at the reduced level of share caters to 11 Lakh House Holds in Chennai. Thanthi TV for a long time was not present in another network, TCCL with sizeable connectivity. Since for a very long time there is no change in placement in towns below 75 Lakhs in ROTN and nothing explains the spurt in viewership for PuthiyaThalaimurai.
The question before the discerning analysts is therefore,
- Is the viewership data released are authentic.
- Did those who manipulated the panel homes under TAM regime are back in action
- Are the channels befitting out of such manipulation are funding these miscreants
- Will BARC which does not have a field office of vigilance in Tamil Nadu act on it immediately.
- Is the advertiser getting value for their money that they are investing on advertisements.
At the least TAM Transparency Panel seem to have had a vigilance mechanism which worked and erring channels pulled up occasionally and also were named and shamed. Will the same kind of punitive action be initiated Under BARC against those trying to manipulate and inflate their viewership. All who have the well being of the TV Media and Advertising Industry’s health and wealth wish that BARC acts immediately and put an end to this menace and bring to book those who trespass their panel homes and sully their data.
Guest Article Authored by VC Bharati – The Author is a veteran Media Professional in South Market with vast experience in the areas of Creative, Project Designing, Strategy and planning for Channel launch with Sound technical knowledge too etc.. He was associated with many leading Media and Broadcast companies during his Journey of three decades at a senior management level and he was instrumental in launch of leading GECs and News Channels in South Market. He can be reached on: [email protected]
Disclaimer: The Content of the article and Opinion reflected are of Authors and not by tvnews4u.com in any manner.