Bribery Claims Threaten Turkish TV Ratings
Reports in the Turkish press claim that the countrys Television Audience Research Committee (TİAK) has severed its agreement with AGB Nielsen, following claims that staff at the firm leaked a list of panel members to TV producers who then bribed them in order to manipulate TV ratings.
Corruption issues emerged as far back as 2009 when panellists alerted AGB Nielsen to possible problems, and in September this year, the ratings company reported new bribery claims to the Turkish police.
As a result of the tip-off, Prosecutor Akif Özgün is now conducting an investigation into the allegations, and last week the İstanbul Police Department's Organized Crime Bureau raided the offices of several TV production and ratings measurement companies, as well as those of AGB Nielsen.
Seven people were held for questioning, including AGB Nielsens Production Director Hilmi Berköz and former AGB Nielsen employee Cemal Orçun Köktuna, who is now Financial Director at TNS Turkey. While four of the seven have now been released, the other - including Berköz and Köktuna - remain in custody awaiting further questioning.
Investigators suspect that a list of the 2,500 families given people meters was leaked to TV producers, who then gave panellists expensive gifts and money each month, in order to manipulate the TV program ratings in their favour.
In a statement, a Nielsen spokesperson commented: We are gratified to see the police pursuing its investigation for the benefit of our clients, the TV industry, and the general public. Nielsen and its personnel are cooperating with the police investigation but we cant comment further on it. Nielsen continues to place the highest priority on integrity in its TV audience ratings, and its entire management team is dedicated to that objective.
Turkeys TV ratings contract was put out to tender in 2009 and won by TNS, with an agreement to commence the programme in September 2012. Unconfirmed reports quote TİAK General Manager Dursun Güleryüz saying that TİAK is currently trying to bring this start date forward.
Web site: www.agbnielsen.com .