NEW DELHI: Close on the heels of the NDTV lawsuit, Prasar Bharati is considering legal action against Television Audience Measurement (TAM) for suppression of data related to viewership for Doordarshan and its allied channels. The issue is likely to be discussed in the Prasar Bharati board meeting on August 6.
Prasar Bharati CEO Jawahar Sircar said, "I am keen on taking legal action against TAM. But we are still in discussions with our legal counsel. The final decision will be taken by the board and we will abide by it."
Doordarshan has 37 channels including DD Bharati and DD National besides four allied channels like Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha TV. With its 1415 transmitters DD enjoys an enviable 92% coverage of the country through its terrestrial network. These would constitute a viewership of about 2.5 crore people. The state broadcaster also has DD Direct Plus that has over 1 crore subscribers amounting to at least 3.5 crore viewers.
However, sources say that despite the largest viewership base DD has always been short-changed by TAM when it came to viewership ratings.
"DD channels never notch high television rating points and our revenues have over the years suffered tremendously because of that," a source said.
Prasar Bharati's revenues have in fact stagnated at Rs 1,200-1,400 crore in the last few years. This has also meant that the public broadcaster had to be sustained by the public exchequer.
The pubcaster has repeatedly raised this issue with the I&B ministry and the parliamentary standing committee. In fact, appearing before the 2004 Parliamentary standing committee headed by Nikhil Kumar that looked at the TRPs issue, Prasar Bharati said that neither broadcasters, advertisers or corporate media planners could get a "true picture" about Indian viewers' TV watching habits as the rating system did not adequately represent the actual television viewing pattern of the Indian TV homes.
Prasar Bharati pointed out that "62 million of 112 million TV homes were outside the ambit of television audience measurement ratings as they were in rural areas".