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NDTV sues Nielsen for 'taking bribes to fix ratings'

Last updated on: July 31, 2012 14:52 IST

NDTV sues Nielsen for 'taking bribes to fix ratings'

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NDTV has sued a global marketing and advertising research company for allegedly manipulating viewership data in favour of channels that are willing to provide bribes to its officials, according to reports.

The news broadcaster has filed a lawsuit against TAM (Television Audience Measurement), a joint venture between Nielsen and Kantar Media Research, in the Supreme Court in New York, accusing Nielsen of manipulating data for eight years.

"The loss of revenue caused to NDTV on account of the false, fabricated and manipulated data released to the public by Nielsen, Kantar and TAM over the past eight years is not less than $810 million," says NDTV, according to Indiantelevision.com.

NDTV is demanding $810 million for fraud and $580 million for negligence in the 194-page law suit, it says.

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Image: NDTV is demanding $810 million for fraud and $580 million for negligence.
Photographs: Courtesy, NDTV

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The broadcaster claims it presented evidences to Nielsen and other parties and the senior officials promised to make changes. However, it says all promises to make changes are a "sham" and that bad data continues to get released "recklessly and in pursuit of profits", says Indiantelevision.com.

The channel has also demanded that the top brass of the company be punished and the Nielsen be kicked out of India for good.

The lawsuit contains merely allegations against Nielsen that operates in more than 100 countries, earns more than $5 billion a year and has been around since 1923. But if proved, they could be very serious, according to Fox News.

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Photographs: Courtesy, Nielsen

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NDTV sues Nielsen for 'taking bribes to fix ratings'

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A Nielsen spokesperson said the company "has a longstanding policy of not commenting on pending legal matters", it says.

NDTV says Nielsen and Kantar Media Research (each named as defendants) once were rivals but decided to operate jointly within India to monopolise the market for TV viewership data. The board of TAM is said to be composed of officials from the two companies, according to Fox News.

"The primary reason that data could be so easily manipulated in India was due to the persistent refusal of Nielsen and Kantar to provide adequate funds for TAM to increase its sample size and invest in the systems/quality/security procedures," says the lawsuit.

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Photographs: Jumana El-Heloueh/Reuters

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NDTV sues Nielsen for 'taking bribes to fix ratings'

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Moreover, the lawsuit says that the sample size of data is really small, only 8,000 households. Which, when compared to a population of over 1.2 billion, is hardly worth mention, according to Business Review India.

If proven, this would send shockwaves through the broadcasting sphere.  For quite some time, suspicion has been harboured by journalists and viewers alike that television consumption data is manipulated. However, with no other way to verify it, as TAM is the only well-known player in this field, the matter has been kept under the wraps, it says.


Photographs: Denis Balibouse/Reuters

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