The decision was taken late yesterday, after the three industry bodies - Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF), Advertising Agencies Association of India (AAAI) and Indian Society of Advertisers (ISA) - reached a consensus.
"Building on a previous agreement between TAM and IBF, with the joint consensus of AAAI and ISA, TAM data has been suspended across all genres, across the country. Data would be released from December 19 as is the usual practice," read an IBF statement.
The decision of deferring the data temporarily follows the mandatory switchover from analogue to digital addressable systems (DAS) in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai (in the first phase) by October 31.
In the second phase, digitisation would be implemented across 38 other cities from April 1, 2013. Digitisation across the country is scheduled to be completed by December 31, 2015.
"The broadcasting industry is of the view that during the transition process from analogue signals to digital environment, there could have been discrepancies in TAM's reporting of data, which could have had serious implications, particularly for broadcasters, not only in terms of finance, but also in terms of credibility. The deferment of the release of data during the 'switchover' will ensure TAM and all the stakeholders provide extended time for the on-ground situation to stabilise into a digital phase. This would help ensure users take a longer-term view of data for decision-making. TAM has all its systems in place to ensure accurate data," the statement added.
In 2007, TAM had started installing TVM5 peoplemeters, which record digital, analogue, terrestrial and IPTV coverage.
The IBF statement said all stakeholders stressed consistency, quality and integrity of the data must be maintained. However, a few media agency executives and broadcasters said the decision to stop the ratings from October 7 was unexpected, adding advertisers should have been given a notice.
"My clients have put in big money on a few shows on Hindi general entertainment channels. We were not told the ratings would stop. There is big money involved," said a senior executive.
TAM data for the period from October 7 to December 8 would also be released with the data on December 19, after being curetted and validated by a panel of experts from Nielsen/Kantar and representatives from the boards of IBF, AAAI and ISA to ensure quality, consistency and integrity of processes and data.
It is understood the decision of collating and releasing the data for the nine-week period was taken because agencies have demanded the data. IBF has assured stakeholders of AAAI and ISA it doesn't intend to seek a similar scenario in the subsequent phases, as long as the data integrity and quality consistency is maintained in subsequent phases, in the interest of the TV industry and its stakeholders. "The learning from the first phase should enable greater clarity in subsequent phases," IBF said.