Television ratings fudged says NDTV, files suit in New York court

In a 194-page lawsuit, NDTV has appealed to the New York Supreme Court to have Nielsen, Kantar and TAM India pay it $810 million in compensation for advertising revenue loss due to the firm’s fudging of ratings over the past eight years. It wants another $580 million for negligence of Nielsen and Kantar officials.

TAM, Nielsen and Kantar’s India partner measure audience preferences from its “Peoplemeter” gadget installed in viewers’ homes. With 8,000 sample homes, NDTV pointed out, the sample audience is extremely low to accurately gauge viewership in a large and diverse country like India where out of the samples, less than 500 would account for homes watching English news channels.

In a controversy surrounding TAM, a whistleblower called “The Consultant” made it known to NDTV in January 2012 that confidential information and addresses of the sample viewers were leaked and the ratings could be manipulated by paying a bribe of $500 per household to influence ratings in a required target group. The lawsuit mentions that TAM officials had approached NDTV in April 2012 with an offer to manipulate their ratings as the ratings heavily influence corporate advertising, making a sizeable chunk of broadcasting revenue.   Aaliya Khan