WPP is considering proceedings against Indian broadcaster NDTV for defamation, following the latter’s claims that staff at its TAM Media Research joint venture took bribes in exchange for overstating television ratings.
Last month, NDTV (New Delhi Television) filed
a case in the New York Supreme Court, accusing Kantar and Nielsen of violating anti-bribery laws through their TAM (Television Audience Measurement) joint venture in India.
NDTV alleges that staff at TAM India took the bribes in order to falsify the ratings data, and says that at a meeting it attended with several of these field staff, they claimed they could influence what panellist households watched if they were paid between $250 to $500 per household per month.
This morning, WPP said the ‘hypothetical lawsuit’ had not been served on itself, or any of its operating companies referred to in the allegations. The marcoms giant added: ‘There is ‘no merit whatsoever’ in the claims made by NDTV, and the courts of New York do not have any jurisdiction to hear such claims.’
WPP is in the process of issuing an immediate application to strike out the ‘hypothetical lawsuit’ and it will be seeking costs in so doing. Additionally, the company is considering issuing proceedings against NDTV for defamation, and has instructed its lawyers accordingly.
Last month, Nielsen told DRNO that it also believes the NDTV case is ‘without merit’.
Legal issues aside, TAM has put together a six-point plan with the Indian Society of Advertisers (ISA) and the Advertising Agencies Association of India (AAAI) in order to remove any ‘question marks’ over the quality and reliability of its data. The plan includes appointing a security officer and security agency; expanding the number of people meters in India’s six biggest cities; a review of industry research processes; and the establishment of an internal audit team.