Doordarshan joins new Indian ratings system effort

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NEW DELHI -- India's state-run broadcaster Doordarshan, which accounts for nearly two-thirds of the ad spend on local TV, will join hands with rival satellite channels to develop a new, more reliable ratings system.

S.S. Gill, Doordarshan's newly appointed chief executive, said that he had held talks about launching a more accurate TV ratings system with News Corp.'s 50% owned Zee TV, Home TV, Sony Corp.'s Sony Entertainment Television and Business India Television.

"All of us have agreed to carry out more broad-based audience research than what is [being] provided by the people- meters, which is slightly skewed," Mr. Gill said. "The findings of this body will help advertisers as well as viewers."

For a country that boasts nearly 50 million TV sets capable of receiving Doordarshan's terrestrial service, India relies on a sample of only 1,400 homes for viewer habits, program choices and feedback.

Doordarshan claims it reaches over 250 million viewers while cable and satellite channels reach under 18 million homes and an estimated 90 million viewers.

The problem is further compounded by the existence of rival ratings from Indian Market Research Bureau, part of the J. Walter Thompson Co. agency fold, and ORG-MARG, India's largest market researcher, which is owned 26% by Dutch media and publishing conglomerate VNU.

Copyright January 1998, Crain Communications Inc.

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