Business Standard reports that TAM Media Research, India’s sole television ratings agency, will move court this week against the guidelines on ratings agencies approved by the Union Cabinet on January 9, 2014. The guidelines prevent any entity from having paid-up equity of more than 10 percent in a rating agency and a broadcaster, an advertiser or an advertising agency, at the same time.

TAM, a 50-50 joint venture between Nielsen and WPP’s Kantar Research, has been given 30 days to comply with the guidelines. Those in the know say with time running out, the agency has to move court to prevent itself from going out of business.

A spokesperson for Nielsen said, “We have taken into account the recently announced guidelines on monitoring television ratings. We are in process of internally discussing and evaluating options to find a suitable way forward.”

In an interview with Firstpost, Kantar’s CEO Eric Salama said that the 30-day deadline is “unworkable”: “There’s no way that change can happen in that space of time.” If there remains no change to the deadline, “the industry could have no ratings at the end of 30 days, which I think is a disaster for the industry.” He also feels that the issue of cross-ownership “is not something that is an issue in India”, is “not in the interest of the industry, and isn’t something that will promote the most competition or the best service for the Indian industry.”

Business Standard learnt that TAM is being backed by industry bodies Advertising Agencies Association of India (AAAI), Indian Society of Advertisers and the India Broadcasting Federation, all stakeholders in the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC), a non-profit body set to launch an alternative ratings system by October this year.

“The absence of TRP data will not help (media) agencies and advertisers because there will be no basis to buying advertising time. This will be detrimental to the TV advertising business,” said Arvind Sharma, president, AAAI.

Earlier, AAAI had made a plea to extend the deadline for the implementation of the guidelines on ratings agencies, saying 30 days weren’t sufficient for TAM to sort its cross-holdings. But the information and broadcasting ministry stuck to the deadline.

Sources say a media-dark environment for the next six-seven months, till BARC launches its ratings system, isn’t feasible, as there are key television properties to be launched in the first half of the year. These include the second season of the Aamir-Khan-anchored Satyamev Jayate (slated to be launched on STAR Plus in March) and the seventh season of the Indian Premier League (April-end or the beginning of May on SET Max).