The Prasar Bharati Board has given its nod to seek legal opinion and hold consultations with the ministry of information and broadcasting (I&B) on misrepresentation and under-reporting of data for Doordarshan by Television Audience Measurement (TAM).
In a statement, Prasar Bharati CEO Jawahar Sircar said, "The TAM data completely under represents terrestrial and rural reach of Doordarshan, where the major strength of the public broadcaster lies."
Indian advertising revenues amount to Rs 36,000 crore a year according to official estimates. Sources in Prasar Bharati said that with viewership of 3.5 crore or one-third of the total viewership, the public broadcaster should have been able to garner higher revenues that the existing Rs 1,200-1,400 crore a year.
Doordarshan has 37 channels including DD Bharati and DD National besides four allied channels like Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha TV. With 1,415 transmitters, DD enjoys 92% coverage of the country through its terrestrial network.
In its meeting on Monday the board authorized the CEO to collate data and identify the best legal option to pursue. "Prasar Bharati finances have taken a major hit not only because data related to coverage was constantly under-represented but also because advertisers have been influenced by TAM. The agency paid no attention to the rural population that was covered by DD and gave it an edge over satellite channels," a source said.
In its statement, Prasar Bharati said, "The Prasar Bharati Board has given in-principle approval to collate facts, seek legal opinion and hold consultations with the ministry on the issue of misrepresentation and under-reporting of data for Doordarshan by TAM."
The pubcaster's move comes at a time when NDTV has filed a lawsuit worth billions of dollars against TAM in the New York Supreme Court. The channel has alleged that TAM deliberately published corrupt and tainted data favouring rival channels in return for bribes and did not correct its processes despite repeated communication between the two companies for eight years.