21 November 2022


Judgments

Competition Commission of India

Prasar Bharati (Broadcasting Corporation of India) v. TAM Media Research Private Limited

25.02.2016

MRTP/ Competition Laws

TRP ratings leave rural TV public out of the loop

Prasar Bharti’s complaint against the undervaluation of its televisual content hurting its advertising revenues was rejected by the Competition Commission. The complaint was based on the skewed collection of television viewership data by TAM Media Research, which excluded Prasar Bharti’s predominantly rural and semi-urban viewers from its statistics.

‘Television Rating Points’ or ‘Television Viewership Ratings’ are used to gauge the popularity of television shows; broadcasters and advertisers use these ratings to negotiate advertising charges. TAM, the sole entity in India collecting such data, used ‘People Meters’, devices connected to television sets in select households, to obtain viewership patterns. About 9000 such devices are placed around the country, however only in cities with populations of one lakh or more, excluding rural and sub-urban regions. Prasar Bharti claimed that it was in these regions its content was most favourably watched, and a low urban viewership led to an unfair reduction in its advertising revenue.

Though the Director General’s investigation into the complaint yielded a report portraying TAM in a monopolistic and anti-competitive light, the Commission tempered its observations with regard to the technical and commercial difficulties in collecting data. This was despite the sample size of households monitored in India was being only 0.0005 per cent of the television owning population of the entire country whereas internationally sample sizes ranged between 0.016 and 0.059 per cent. The Commission determined that though TAM was able to operate independently of prevailing market forces, it clearly disclosed the limitations of its data to stakeholders. Given the different relationship it had with broadcasters on the one hand and advertisers on the other: TAM’s data only served “as a key parameter in determining the cost and price of advertising slots… [TAM] is not imposing discriminatory or unfair condition on broadcasters”. Parasr Bharti’s contention that TAM’s higher subscription charges for broadcasters was discriminatory was rejected, for a dominant enterprise could charge different prices for a particular service where the operation and use of the same was in different market conditions. Commission also accepted TAM’s justification to procuring expensive ‘People Meters’ for their superior quality and competitive prices.

Relevant

Section 4 Competition Act, 2002

Tags : Television ratings viewership advertising revenue

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