BARB chief Thelin defends handling of TNS appointment

Bjarne Thelin, chief executive of the Broadcasters Audience Research Board (BARB), has defended the way it handled moving the £10m TV measurement contract from AGBNielsen to TNS.

Bjarne Thelin, chief executive of the Broadcasters’ Audience Research Board (BARB), has defended the way it handled moving the £10m TV measurement contract from AGBNielsen to TNS.

But he refuses to commit to the use of Portable People Meters (PPM), a measurement system which has been at the heart of legal disputes stalling the appointment.

Thelin says the board has acted in a “thorough” and “professional” way. BARB this week confirmed TNS has won the six-year, £10m contract from 2010 (MW November 15).

Nielsen, a 50% stakeholder in AGBNielsen with WPP Group, is understood to have threatened legal action over a European patent it holds. It claims the Arbitron system put forward by TNS as part of its tender would infringe the patent (MW November 29).

An ongoing appeal argued by a number of companies, including TNS, is due to be heard in March. TNS has separately served papers for a High Court action to revoke the patent (MW last week).

BARB is understood to have backtracked into committing only to a fixed meter system with an “option” to use PPMs in the future. Thelin says: “There are no patent issues in respect to the core service we have committed to.”
He adds: “There are various actions being sought and appeals in the European patent office, but our service isn’t dependent on the outcome of those issues.

“We are not committing to the PPM for the contract, therefore of course it is possible that it will not be used.”
BARB has also retained RSMB, on survey design, quality control and calcuation methodology and Ipsos MORI for an establishment survey.

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