What Is Kantar Media, the Company That Will Be Assessing TV Audiences in the Republic of Moldova for the Next Five Years?

Felicia Nedzelschi

Kantar Media is a company which will be assessing the TV audience in the Republic of Moldova for the next five years. The announcement made by the Broadcasting Council was a long-awaited one, and also puts an end to more than a decade during which the TV audience in the Republic of Moldova was assessed by a single company, TV MR MLD (AGB Nielsen Media Research official representative), founded by a British company with offshore origins in Belize. Kantar Media, a giant in the media industry, also assesses the TV audience in Romania l. Media Azi would like to present the profile of this company.

What Are Kantar Group and Kantar Media?

The Kantar Group is a true “mammoth” in the PR and media industry. It describes itself to the public as “the worldwide leader in marketing data and analytics.” The company positions itself as a partner for “96 out of the 100 largest advertisers in the world” and provides PR and advertising services, analysis, consulting, brand development, and audience assessment; it has also offered to provide these services in the Republic of Moldova.

For instance, in Kantar’s 2022 annual report, the media department registered gross income of $536 million. Kantar Media operates three distinct business models: audience assessment (including TechEdge software); advertising information; and Target Group Index (TGI, which includes consumer profiling and targeting).

Kantar Media conducts audience assessments in 62 countries, including the UK, France, Spain, Norway, and several parts of Latin America. Its technology is applied in 24 other countries, which makes Kantar a major global stakeholder producing TV audience data used by advertisers.

The Romanian Market

Kantar was appointed to assess the audiences in Romania following a licitation held in 2011. Since that time, this company continues delivering the TV audience data across the Prut. In the neighboring country, however, Kantar did not avoid public disputes regarding correctness of its assessment results. Controversy arose even before the assessments were launched – in December 2011, several weeks before the company could start the assessment itself. Back then, Kantar was still trying to convince the audience to install PeopleMeters, devices for assessing TV audiences, in their homes. Since then, Kantar has been subjected to harsh criticism rejected by both the company and the Romanian Association for Audience Measurement (ARMA).

Later, Realitatea TV notified ARMA and the higher authorities in Brussels about alleged irregularities regarding the accuracy of the audience assessment statistics. According to the official results, no viewers from the commercial audience had watched the Life Time News broadcast with Amedeo Ene on Realitatea TV on a particular evening, although at the national level, Realitatea TV had been watched by dozens of thousands of viewers from the total audience.

Since 2012, ARMA commissioned three external audits of the Kantar service, and the audits confirmed that it was operating well enough or at least within the contractual parameters each time.

A Lawsuit in India

In 2012, Kantar Media was involved in a lawsuit in India. New Dehli TV, India’s oldest and largest news network, filed a multi-billion dollar lawsuit alleging that TV audience data was manipulated in favor of the channels which intended to bribe the officials.

The lawsuit concerned alleged corruption by a joint venture known as TAM (Television Audience Measurement), a joint venture between Nielsen and Kantar Media Research, both of which were summoned as defendants.

Kantar, along with its then-parent company WPP, the multinational advertising giant, later denied the allegations in an application. “This case is nothing more than the plaintiff’s desperate attempt… to distract attention from the real reasons why their broadcasts programs have low ratings,” the application states. In 2013, New Delhi TV’s request was rejected in New York.

Kantar Media Sales

In January 2024, reports were circulating that Kantar Media could be put up for sale for approximately “a billion pounds,” according to Sky News. The source informed that Kantar’s majority owner, Bain Capital, was allegedly initiating a sale procedure and had even selected the bankers to control the sale. The source mentions that it is unclear when the prospective transaction could take place.

Four and a half years ago, WPP, the previous majority owner, agreed to sell 60% of Kantar to the private equity firm named Bain Capital in a transaction during which Kantar was assessed at approximately £3.2 billion, with WPP retaining the remaining 40% of its shares.

Kantar in the Republic of Moldova

In January 2024, the Broadcasting Council announced that the Kantar and GfK companies submitted their offers for the assessments of audience and market shares in Moldova. After opening the envelopes with the two offers, the voting members of the Competition Board unanimously decided to accept both of them for consideration.

On February 8, the BC announced that Kantar’s offer was the only one which met the specification requirements.

On April 1, the authority issued a press release announcing that Kantar would be assessing TV audiences in our country for the next five years. However, the BC emphasized that it did not require all the beneficiaries to sign agreements with Kantar Media for TV audience assessment or to terminate contracts with the current assessment company.

The institution affirms that if the beneficiaries have enough money to cover the financial offer presented by Kantar Media, they will be able to notify the company and start the procedure of signing the agreement. “However, the company does not impose any obligations, including financial ones, which could be entrusted to the Competition Commission, its members, beneficiaries, or prospective beneficiaries of the services for assessing audience and market shares, any public authorities, or the state of the Republic of Moldova,” the source mentions.

What Has Been Happening until Recently?

For more than a decade, the TV audiences in the Republic of Moldova have been assessed by a single company, TV MR MLD (AGB Nielsen Media Research official representative), founded by a British company with offshore origins in Belize. Media Azi mentions, with reference to the 2019 licitation, that it was the only company participating in the licitation, and that the others refused due to lack of interest in the local market, according to the members of the board active at that time. On the other hand, Pro TV Chisinau representatives claimed that two other companies, a British one and a German one, had shown great interest, but had refused from further participation due to the limited deadline for the presentation of offers which included only 30 days. Jurnal Trust Media also described the selection process as flawed.

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