Contrary to claims in the Turkish press, reported in DRNO on Friday, AGB Nielsen says its own panellists have alerted it proactively to corruption issues; that it continues to enjoy good relations with awarding body TIAK; and that it is very much in the running for a tender taking place later this year.
Last week English language publication Today's Zaman quoted Ömer Kayalýoðlu, President of TIAK (Television Audience Research Committee) and implied that a change of supplier was wanted: claims which AGB Nielsen Turkey MD Craig Johnson says are ‘wildly inaccurate’ and may have ‘lost something in translation’. In reality the contract has been put out for tender in a normal fashion and three companies paid for tender documents by the 15th June deadline: GfK, TNS and AGB Nielsen itself.
Johnson told DRNO the current corruption issue had been running for two and a half months, and that his company was first alerted to it by one of its own panellists: ‘they often have a close relationship with the firm’s technicians and they’re likely to mention it to them if they are approached with anything like this’. Of 41 families on the panel in Ismir and Ankara currently identified as having been approached, Johnson says around half reported the attempted bribe themselves and the other half have been identified from unusual changes in viewing habits and have confirmed on follow-up that an approach was made.
The households were asked to watch three programmes in particular, and AGB has a strong theory as to who made the approaches, given that the changes in behaviour would have been too small-scale for a network to have benefitted from them. Legal requirements prevent any elaboration on this.
Johnson confirmed that the country’s Radio and Television Corporation (TRT) has filed a complaint which included reference to AGB Nielsen’s monopolistic position, but played down the significance and likely impact of this given the forthcoming tender and the fact that national ratings contracts often go to one supplier and run for a respectable length of time before re-tender.
Bids for the new contract are due by the 1st of October. If all three remaining potential suppliers submit, this would be the first time Nielsen has gone head-to-head with TNS for such business since the WPP takeover, says Johnson. DRNO will update readers on bid progress later in the year.
Web site: www.agbnielsen.com