Caroline McDevitt steps down at Barb

Caroline McDevitt, the chief executive of Barb who oversaw the introduction of a controversial audience panel, is stepping down from her post.

Barb attempted to introduce the new reporting panel 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 in wild variations in the audience ratings, confusing agencies and advertisers.

Barb attracted particular criticism for failing to run the new audience panel alongside the old for a long enough period to compare audience data.

Further complications, particularly in panel recruitment, continued throughout 2002 and culminated in the ousting of Nick Phillips as the Barb chairman. He was replaced by Nigel Walmsley.

One year after the Barb panel was supposed to be up and running, its size and content was still giving broadcasters and agencies cause for concern as it had failed to reach the target of 5,100 panel homes. This had implications for the planning and analysing of campaigns and year-on-year audience changes.

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."