MUMBAI – The Indian government has unveiled a new regime for television ratings that will take almost immediate effect.

The move follows long-simmering discontent about the methods of gathering and publishing TV rating data, which has led to battles between broadcasters, advertisers and agencies.

Ratings are currently controlled by a near monopoly TAM Media Research, a joint venture between Nielsen India and WPP’s Kantar Media Research. It is hoped that the new guidelines will allow new entrants to begin operating.

Manish Tewari, Information and Broadcasting minister, has essentially accepted the recommendations of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India. The industry will have to comply with the new rules within 30 days.
All ratings agencies must be registered with the MIB. No investor can have more than 10% equity holdings in both ratings agencies and a broadcaster or advertising company.
Ratings will have to capture data across different platforms including cable, direct to home and terrestrial television.

Although India has 154 million TV homes, the current number of homes sampled currently is only 10,000. The number of panel homes will have to increase to 20,000, within six months of the guidelines coming into force and increase by 10,000 a year until they reach 50,000. Some 25% of panel homes will be rotated every year and the identities of all panel homes kept anonymous.
The ratings agencies have to submit their methodologies to the government and also publish these and regular audits on their websites. The government and the TRAI have the right to conduct audits of their own.
Ratings agencies are required to furnish a bank guarantee worth $160,000 (INR10 million), which they stand to forfeit if they do not comply with the guidelines.
A new ratings agency led by the Broadcast Audience Research Council is expected to begin functioning in 2014.