CCI by its order dated February 25, 2016 has closed a case alleging abuse of dominant position by the television audience measurement services agency, TAM Media Research Private Limited, in relation to the procedure adopted for measurement of Television Rating Points (TRPs) or Television Viewership Ratings (TVR) since 2011.

The case was filed by the public broadcaster, Prasar Bharati, through Doordarshan channel.

The methodology adopted by TAM to measure TRP includes meters installed in TVs in areas/cities with a population of 1 Lakh or more. TAM has installed a total of 8000 meters throughout the country, which represents a very narrow statistical base. It was alleged that the TRP/TVR generated by TAM actually underestimates the actual viewership of Doordarshan as it primarily is being watched by the population in rural areas. Thus, the TRP/TVR puts the Informant in a disadvantageous position and gives undue advantage to broadcasters who have programmes for urban areas only.

The DG Report considered that the market for provision of services for audience measurement for channels and programs on television in India, observing that audience measurement of other media platforms like print, radio, and internet are not substitutes of audience measurement of TV. Within this market, the DG Report considered that TAM enjoys 100% market share (monopoly) since 2011, and thus enjoys a dominant position.

The DG Report considered that the exclusion of semi-urban and rural areas from the sample size results in imposition of unfair and discriminatory conditions on those broadcasters who have channels and programs focused to rural market as they are not duly compensated by the advertisers in violation of Section 4(2)(a)(i) and 4(2)(c) of the Competition Act, 2002 (Act). Secondly the DG Report noted that the conduct of TAM in charging higher annual subscription fees from advertisers and media agencies to provide TV viewership data amounts to imposition of discriminatory price in violation of the provisions of Section 4(2)(a)(ii) of the Act. Thirdly, since TAM has been the only user of such measurement meters in India, this has led to the limiting of technology and scientific development for manufacturing of such meters amounting to infringement of Section 4(2)(b)(ii) of the Act.

The CCI agreed with the delineation of the relevant market by the DG. It considered that the market should be that of ‘audience measurement for channels and programmes on television in India’. The CCI is in agreement with the findings of DG that OP holds 100% market share in the relevant market since August 2011, indicating market power of the OPs. The customers of TAM, broadcaster and advertisers, are dependent on services provided by the OP as it plays a crucial role in the decision making process. Thus, the CCI considered that TAM is a dominant position in the relevant market.

As regards non-coverage of viewership in rural areas in measurement of audience viewership, the CCI notes that TAM has clearly disclosed to its stakeholders and has also stated on its website as well in every subscription contract entered between TAM and the advertisers / broadcasters that its data is largely representative of viewing preferences of the urban and semi-urban population. Hence, no unfair and discriminatory condition was imposed on any subscriber as all the subscribers to TAM’s data were well aware of the methodology used by the TAM and its limitations.

As regards allegation of discriminatory pricing by TAM, the CCI noted that the broadcaster and advertising agencies/advertisers are not similarly placed subscribers of TAM. Since they are differently situated, the allegation that charging higher subscription rate on broadcasters was discriminatory does not hold any ground.

The CCI closed the case with a finding that no abuse of dominant position was established by TAM.

(Source: CCI: Order dated February 25, 2016. For full text see CCI website)