Indian government wades into NDTV/WPP TV audience dispute

It does seem rather strange that TV audience measurement in India – a pretty large country with a billion or so people – takes place in just 8,000 homes.

This, according to broadcaster NDTV, means it’s far too easy for its rivals to bribe people to watch their programmes rather than NDTV’s.

And the argument between NDTV and audience measurement service TAM (owned by WPP and arch-rival Nielsen) is currently wending its way through the New York courts.

WPP boss Sir Martin Sorrell (pictured) has tried his hardest to get the lawsuit struck out and even accused NDTV’s US lawyers of not being up to scratch (they’re supposedly suing him personally now for slander).

But WPP’s hardball tactics seem to have backfired with both the Indian government and the country’s broadcasting authorities investigating the audience ratings system and pressing for a more secure model in a far greater number of homes.

So has NDTV (New Delhi Television) effectively won its case?

Well we wait to see what changes are made (and whether or not there is a judgement by the New York court).

But Sorrell may regret his tough tactics. To an Indian, WPP’s response to NDTV’s claims will surely look like Western bullying.

Which is hardly the impression big Western marcoms companies, who have invested heavily in India, want to give.

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.