Tuesday, July 31, 2012

TV ratings - the best that bribes can fix?

There's an interesting lawsuit in New York concerning TV rating problems in India.  It may reveal a great deal about how TV programs and channels are rated in the USA as well.  The Hollywood Reporter informs us:

In a 194-page lawsuit filed in New York court late last week, [New Delhi Television Limited] accuses Nielsen of violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act by manipulating viewership data in favor of channels that are willing to provide bribes to its officials.

. . .

Tampering with data is said to have been a known problem since 2004 and discussed in industrywide public meetings.

For example, during a November meeting in Mumbai of the board of directors of News Broadcasters Association, NDTV's executive vice chairperson Narayan Rao presented a report about the fiddling of PeopleMeters, the company's audience-measurement tool. Rao said some were "subverting the ratings system by 'discovering' the panel homes that have PeopleMeters installed in them, doctoring data emerging from 'parallel homes,' providing a separate TV in select panel homes for viewing while the TV linked to the meter was tuned to specified channels [and] misusing the guest button where up to 10 guests can be shown watching even when there is no one there."

These acts are allegedly happening as TV channels in the country are covertly providing monetary inducements for the manipulation of data.

. . .

If that's not enough, the complaint ... suggests that similar bad activity is happening elsewhere -- in Florida, Turkey and the Philippines.

There's more at the link.  It's well worth reading the whole article to get a sense for how easy it may be to manipulate the ratings.  If the allegations are true, it would seem they're not worth the paper they're printed on - which means that advertisers who are charged by networks according to those ratings are being ripped off left, right and center.

Is it just me, or can anyone else sense the impending approach of a shark lawyer feeding frenzy?


1 comment:

FrankC said...

Random thought.
Could these TVs tuned to a named channel which nobody is watching, while a second TV is watched by the family, possibly have contributed to the recent power blackouts in India?
Just a thought.