Making BARB reflect new TV industry

In Torin Douglas’ column “The bongs may toll for BARB if it concentrates on the small fry” (MW March 11), reference was made to whether everything BARB measures is necessary.

Torin is absolutely right to raise this issue, as we have gone through enormous changes in the TV industry since the last BARB contract specification was drawn up in 1989.

Representatives of all sides of the industry meet regularly under the auspices of BARB to discuss and refine the specification for the next contract (due to commence in January 2002). Key objectives include making sure the emphasis is right and simplifying the volume of information available.

One subject that has been debated for some time is timeshift viewing through the video. Currently, the gold standard currency is consolidated, that is adding live real-time viewing to timeshift viewing. However, we have to wait seven days for the timeshift element to be available. This not only means a delay in the “published” data, but additional administrative time for buyers and sellers of airtime.

While Mike Kirkham points out that timeshift viewing accounts for only three per cent of total viewing, as we know, averages belie variation by programme, channel and audience. It can contribute valuable key target audience figures to total viewing levels.

ITV has supported the proposal for factoring timeshift viewing. This would mean that timeshift audience information would be available at the same time as the daily overnight ratings. A study examining the viability of this proposal has been commissioned by BARB, and we await the results before making a decision.

Susan Read

Marketing and research director

Granada Media

ITV’s Representative on BARB

London WC1

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