Enraged of Rajar speaks up for diary

On reading the piece entitled “Radio will rue Talk’s tantrum” (MW September 4) I found myself wondering whether I have been speaking in some obscure language for the past few years. In the second paragraph of what might otherwise have been a balanced and articulate piece, the level of misinformation and assumption was astonishing.

Why does the author believe that the “trials of an alternative, computer-driven wristwatch audience measurement system have shown beyond reasonable doubt that there are significant flaws in the diary system”? On what grounds do they believe that the diary “is biased against speech stations”? There is no proof of these assertions whatsoever. What is apparent is that the same old trap is being fallen into. It’s new, it’s electronic, it gives bigger numbers, hey presto, it must be right!

Hasn’t it occurred to anyone that the comparisons being made are of the apples and pears variety? The diary isn’t wrong; it’s just different because it measures short-term recall listening for five minutes, while the wristwatch measures exposure for 64 seconds.

It is a completely different definition of listening and, before anyone asks, the Rajar definition is the current industry-agreed version – yes it can be changed, and certainly it will be discussed and debated prior to any change in methodology. This distinction in listening definition in itself will deliver a significant difference between the Rajar data and that from the wristwatch.

As for speech bias, this appears to be a result of claims that the watch delivers higher reach for speech-based services. Can someone tell me why that means it is the diary which is wrong? Lest we forget, there is another audiometer out there – the Arbitron PPM – and Arbitron has observed no format biases between its meter and diaries.

Oh, and by the way, the Arbitron PPM is also new, also electronic, and can also deliver bigger numbers (in Rajar’s tests). Further proof of how wrong diaries are? Except the Arbitron numbers bear no relation to Radiocontrol’s numbers, and in many cases the difference between Arbitron and Radiocontrol is greater than the difference between the diary and either electronic system. Shall we toss a coin?

No, we’ll continue to work with the meter providers until we are satisfied that they have developed a system that works in the UK market by delivering a viable product that measures all stations equally in a credible, reliable and consistent manner. In other words, the diary’s values, only electronic, with, possibly, a new industry-agreed definition of listening (or exposure).

Jane O’Hara

Managing director

Rajar

London W1

We stand by the phrase “reasonable doubt that there are significant flaws in the diary system…” as well as the belief that the current Rajar methodology will eventually be tested to breaking point – Ed.

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