Barb's McDevitt steps down from chief executive post

LONDON - Caroline McDevitt, the chief executive of Barb who piloted the organisation through the introduction of a controversial new audience panel, is stepping down from her post.

A new audience panel was due to be introduced at the beginning of 2002 but it was plagued with problems from the outset. In particular, Barb had problems recruiting a reporting panel of a credible size and this was reflected by wild variations in the audience ratings.

These complications continued throughout 2002 and culminated in the ousting of Nick Phillips as chairman of Barb and his replacement by Nigel Walmsley last August.

One year after the Barb panel was due to be up and running, its size and content was still giving broadcasters and agencies cause for concern.

Walmsley said: "Caroline ably led the changeover to the new Barb system introduced at the start of 2002. This was a major project to ensure that Barb remained at the forefront of television audience research."

The board of Barb will commence the search for a successor to McDevitt, who held the post for five years, in the autumn.

McDevitt said: "It has been a rewarding and challenging five years overseeing the contractual arrangements and implementation of an entirely new TV audience measurement service and panel for the UK. The new service is established and running well. I am leaving Barb in better shape then ever to face the future, and therefore it is time for me to move on and pursue other interests."

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