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Updated: NDTV Vs WPP: Round-Up Of News On The TAM Ratings Spat

27th August 2012: WPP has released a statement stating that it welcomes NDTV’s decision to not get into a prolonged trial. It has also mentioned that NDTV and WPP have been working together to make improvements, and that settlement talks between NDTV and WPP have been carried out as late as August 21, 2012. The company also noted that it’s not unusual for channels to blame TV rating system for their falling ratings, and also said that NDTV has used TAM ratings as and when it suited them.

Here’s WPP’s statement:

“We welcome NDTV’s statement that it has no desire to get into a prolonged trial by media. We have issued statements only in order to correct selective and misleading statements in the media.

NDTV raises some detailed questions, which will be and have been addressed in the proper forum: with the industry, or in the proper court, not in an exchange of media statements. As we have noted several times in previous statements, TAM welcomes the opportunity to address the facts. In the meantime, TAM continues, as it has done in the past, to work to improve its system, with the support and involvement of its many stakeholders and its highly respected management.

We are pleased that NDTV recognises, in this latest announcement, that Kantar, Nielsen and TAM have in fact been working with NDTV, over a long period, to address improvements in the system. It is not true that, as NDTV has previously stated, “nothing” was being done about NDTV’s concerns.

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There has been no obfuscation. The nature of TAM’s business requires continuous investment and technology and TAM is committed to working with the industry to continuously improve the use of its technology, coverage and
transparency. Stringent measures have been taken to protect the panel against repeated attempts at tampering by unknown persons. Discussions continue, as they have for some time, with industry stakeholders to ensure quality and
reliability of the data.
We do think it is important, for the record, to clarify the discussions around settlement. As we have said, and NDTV now admits, the NDTV CEO initiated a request for settlement discussions on 27 July. Vikram Chandra’s email to Eric
Salama was very clear in suggesting settlement discussions take place before “[NDTV] proceed with costly litigation”. As recently as 21 August NDTV’s lawyers wrote to Kantar’s lawyers enquiring about the possibility of a settlement meeting.
The precise wording of that email was: “please let us know what the current status is in relation to settlement possibilities and/or a meeting, which we believe is the subject of certain email communications between Eric Salama of Kantar and
Vikram Chandra of NDTV.” In addition to Vikram’s Chandra’s email attempting to initiate a settlement meeting, NDTV’s lawyers have also referred to the possibility of settlement discussions on other occasions.  Far from WPP engaging a “massive PR machine”, or a “large team” as NDTV have said, to deal with the various statements made by NDTV, in fact a small team of 4-5 WPP staff have dealt with the issues raised by NDTV, over the UK bank holiday.  

It is not unusual for TV stations to seek to blame the measurement of audience data for their falling ratings, but we note that NDTV is in the habit of quoting TAM data when it suits it. For example, in NDTV’s statement of highlights for the Quarter ended September 30th 2011, NDTV quoted TAM ratings to demonstrate that NDTV Good Times was “the number 1 lifestyle channel in the country as per TAM ratings. Advertising revenue has seen a substantial jump in the second quarter of the year.”  As for the “lawsuit”, we remain of the firm view that it has not been served, the claims in that law suit have no merit whatsoever, and that it has been issued in an entirely inappropriate jurisdiction. However, we will deal with those issues in the courts, at the appropriate time.  We reiterate the pride TAM takes in the services it has been delivering to the market for 14 years and TAM, together with its highly respected and admired management, looks forward to continuing to engage with the industry to meet its needs.”

27th August 2012: In response to NDTV’s accusations that WPP was taking India lightly, the group has issued a statement saying that India is a priority market.

Here’s the media statement released by the company:

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“For NDTV to say that WPP is taking India “lightly” is utterly ludicrous.

WPP takes India extremely seriously and our businesses in the country are a testimony to that seriousness.
India is one of WPP’s most important, and fastest growing markets, with revenues of approximately $500 million, including associates, and employing around 12,000 people. WPP has four of the top 12 creative agencies and four of the top 15 media agencies, according to India’s Economic Times newspaper. Some WPP agencies have been operating in India for more than 80 years.

WPP has invested in India, helped to build innumerable Indian brands and organisations, and will continue to do so. WPP CEO Martin Sorrell has been a champion of India at various international platforms such as the World Economic Forum for many years. His regular visits to India and interactions with senior decision-makers in industry and government are also a testament to WPP’s ongoing commitment to the country.”


26th August 2012: NDTV has refuted WPP’s claim that it had reached out to the agency for a settlement following the serving of a lawsuit in the Supreme Court of New York. NDTV said in a statement that Eric Salama, the chief executive of Kantar had sent a confidential mail to NDTV on 8 August, suggesting a meeting to “halt litigation”. Read more at Mint.


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24th August 2012: In an interview with Mint, Sir Martin Sorrell, founder and chief executive of WPP Group Plc, said that the lawsuit was not served properly, and that it was a mischief on NDTV’s part. He had alleged that NDTV’s lawyers had called up WPP and had asked if the firm would like to discuss a settlement. He added that the exercise was an attempt by NDTV to blame the (TAM) ratings for their performance. Read the complete interview on Mint.


23rd August 2012: WPP had called NDTV’s lawsuit against it ‘hypothetical’, saying that it had not been served with the lawsuit, that the courts of New York don’t have any jurisdiction to hear any such claims, that despite a lack of a valid service, “WPP Parties” were in the process of issuing an application to strike out any hypothetical lawsuit, and that WPP was considering suing NDTV for defamation. To this, NDTV had responded by issuing a statement saying that it was baffled and amused by WPP’s ‘PR effort’, and that the suit was available on the website of the Supreme Court of New York.  NDTV had said that it had affidavits to substantiate this, and had called upon WPP to fix ‘their badly damaged and dishonest ratings system in India’. Read more at MediaNama

Our reports so far on the TAM situation:
Updated: WPP Says NDTV’s TAM Ratings Lawsuit Is Hypothetical, May Sue For Defamation
– How To Disrupt TAM Ratings For TV
– What NDTV’s Whistleblower ‘The Consultant’ Said About Rigging TAM Ratings
– NDTV Files Lawsuit Against Nielsen For Manipulating TV Ratings

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