Feature | National news and business channels move from weekly to monthly ratings: Boon or a Bane!

The adage, "change is the only thing that is constant', falls true in every aspect of media, especially television. To survive in a fiercely competitive market and make one's presence felt, broadcasters and channels, are usually on the "deliver something different' mill, thus ending up facing the dilemma of content against revenue. On these lines, the National Broadcasters Association (NBA) in its effort to improve news broadcasting standards, through a dialogue with TAM Media Research, has taken a decision to move from weekly to monthly ratings for all national news and business channels in Hindi and English. One needs to highlight the fact that television ratings, good or bad, are directly proportionate to advertising, which is the biggest source of revenue for broadcasters.

In its effort to understand how and why this change will affect the advertisers or clients, Adgully caught up with people from the industry to get deeper insights into the matter.

Stating that it is essential for NBA to first discuss their proposal with other industry bodies/stakeholders like IBF, AAAI, ISA etc. who are also users of the same central TAM database, LV Krishnan, CEO, TAM Media Research, said that, "only after this should one arrive at an overall industry consensus on the frequency of TAM data reporting. TAM will require written approvals from each of the member's industry bodies on the decision taken with respect to the change in frequency of data reporting. Till the time we receive a formal overall approval from all stakeholders of the TAM database, no decisions on the change in current frequency of reporting will be taken".

Indicating that many internal adjustments and logistical dynamics will have to taken into account by TAM before implementation, "we would like to share it with the industry stakeholders. It is important that each of the user organization's interests are kept in mind in the new change proposed by NBA. We have to be sure that the complete implications of such a move have been understood by all users of the data base and the industry takes a collective and informed decision", he opined.

Kartik Sharma, Managing Partner, Maxus Global said, "Currently the data release of TAM is weekly which actually helps in making course correction to TV plans whenever required. Getting data once a month defeats this purpose and is actually a regressive step." Speaking further on the issue, "There is no need to change the frequency of data release as it will hamper meaningful decision making. All decisions on this have to be taken after taking into account current practices and merits thereof", he said.

Also, a senior official of HDFC Life, on the condition of anonymity said, "As more discussions are expected to take place before the final roll out, I would not like to comment on it. But I feel that a consensus needs to be built to move from weekly to monthly ratings for all national news and business channels in Hindi and English as it is a highly sensitive issue."

Sharing his views from an advertiser's perspective, Chetan Ahuja, General Manager, TME, was of the opinion that, "These changes should not harm anyone or anything on the macro level. The difference and impact shall be noticeable on activities that go beyond 2 ' 3 days, for example, election campaigns. But also, one needs to understand that at such times, one can always go back to ratings, dated probably a year back. But currently, when buys are done on a weekly basis, there is not much effect that one shall observe. But, there would be pitfalls and rises in the future with regards to this issue. One shall not see any hindrances as off now at least".

With the needle of channel ratings, constantly ticking on the hindsight, a journalist is usually under pressure to deliver, quick and captivating stories. Thus one shall relate the growing "need and popularity' of the "Breaking news" phenomena and infer its repercussions on the content and value system of "news channels' per say.

While advertisers feel that these changes in the rating system will definitely change the dynamics of advertising on TV news channels, it is only for one to wait and watch how things unfold and "revolutionize' the TV advertising scene. | By Ankita Tanna [ankita(at)adgully.com]

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