Tussle Over TV Ratings
Sony Entertainment Television, Times TV and NDTV have discontinued subscriptions with Kantar and Nielsen's TAM Media Research, India's leading TV ratings agency; TAM data determines spending for 75% of India's annual $2.4 billion ad budget. The three TV nets claim anomalies in the measurement of small markets (those below 100,000 people), saying they bring down average ratings for channels nationwide. TAM began measuring smaller markets after complaints from broadcaster Doordarshan, whose channels are often the only ones available in the more remote areas. TAM reps said they are open to discussions on the topic. Meanwhile, the Advertising Agencies Assn. of India and Indian Society of Advertisers are supporting TAM, saying its data is essential until the 2014 launch of ratings agency Broadcast Audience Research Council, a joint venture among the AAAI, ISA and the Indian Broadcasting Foundation.
-- Naman Ramachandran
Tiers of Joy for Local Pics
When Hollywood execs think of China's $3 billion film market, they should think beyond big-city tastes, according to research firm EntGroup Consulting. Its report shows that 284 third- and fourth-tier Chinese cities accounted for 34% of the nation's ticket sales last year, compared with 37% for seven first-tier cities. The company expects the lowertier share to hit 42% by the end of 2015, due to the saturation of cinemas in bigger cities. First-tier cities include Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen, while there are 12 second-tier cities, 30 third-tier cities and a great number of fourth tiers. Many of the "smaller" cities have populations similar to large urban centers in the U.S. The EntGroup report cited Panjin, in Liaoning province, as a fourth-tier city, where 2012 B.O. hit $4.17 million, a jump of 867% from $265,000 a year earlier. But auds in third- and fourth-tier cities tend to prefer domestic films to imported ones.
-- Clifford Coonan
Biz Frets Over Human Rights
Showbizzers enchanted by the biz potential in Russia are worried about two bills passed by lawmakers. One proposes a prison sentence for statements or actions "committed with intent to offend the religious feelings of the faithful"; it follows last year's conviction of three members of Pussy Riot for "hooliganism on grounds of religious hatred." The other bill outlaws distribution to children of "propaganda about nontraditional sexual relations"; any media group that equates gay/lesbian relationships with hetero ones could face heavy fines. "These bills reflect the Russian authorities' determination to dictate what people can and cannot say in all areas of life, from the political to the social," said John Dalhuisen, Europe and Central Asia program director at Amnesty Intl. "They are a backward step that should set alarm bells ringing."
-- Leo Barraclough
Televisa Says Viva Veo
Televisa will launch Internet streaming service Veo, challenging rival content providers like Netflix and Carlos Slim, among others. Veo combines a basic SVOD service and TVOD for premium product. It will also produce original programming and will use Televisa's huge library, Televisa exec Carlos Sandoval told website Prensario.net. Veo enters a crowded field, including cinema chain Cinepolis' Klic, ClaroVideo (owned by Slim's America Video), iTunes, Netflix and Walmart-owned Vudu. A telecommunications law, signed June 10 by president Enrique Pena Nieto, may limit Televisa's free-to-air biz, so diversification makes sense.
-- John Hopewell
Pub-TV: The Ripple Effect
The Geneva-based European Broadcasting Union temporarily revived pubcaster ERT's news channel last week, and then collected signatures of more than 50 Euro directors general asking Greece to resume broadcasts of the radio and TV stations, which had been taken off the air as a cost-saving measure.