BARB links with Rajar to test meter devices

The Broadcasters’ Audience Research Board (BARB), the television rating organisation, has joined up with radio audience measurement body Rajar to test the Arbitron portable meter device. It is the first time that BARB has been involved with the Rajar testing of electronic meters.

BARB has arranged for the encoding of a small number of TV channels, which have yet to be identified. As the Arbitron pager operates by picking up coded broadcasts, it will also be able to measure consumer’s media consumption habits in relation to these channels as well as radio stations.

Rajar announced it was launching national field tests last week.

This is an exploratory first-stage test for BARB, which hopes to discover how consumers use the meters. The group is not testing the meter with a view to changing the technology that it uses, as its contract with AGB Nielsen Media Research Group does not expire until 2009.

BARB chief executive Bjarne Thelin says: “When BARB extended its research contracts last year, we said that we would be continually exploring new methods and technologies. The planned tests fit in with those aims as we will gather more information about portable people meters and maximise our understanding of issues such as rates of public compliance with audiometers.”

Rajar’s test will use a 700-strong panel and will not include BARB homes. BARB is looking at ways of updating its service to cope with the emergence of new technologies. It is preparing for the reporting of personal video recorder (PVR) viewing figures and hopes to deliver figures for Sky Plus playback within the next few months. It is also testing a measurement system for generic PVRs and digital video recorders.

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