Barb needs to revamp to retain credibility into the next century

The measurement of TV audiences must undergo a radical overhaul if it is to maintain its credibility into the 21st century, the conference heard, and Barb is already discussing a new management structure.

The measurement of TV audiences must undergo a radical overhaul if

it is to maintain its credibility into the 21st century, the conference

heard, and Barb is already discussing a new management structure.



John Billett, the chief executive of the Billett Consultancy, kicked off

the discussion by telling delegates: ’If we continue to have audience

research in the hands of the media owners, we will never get the type of

audience research we need - research that is broader than a straight

head count.’



Bob Wootton, director of media services at the Incorporated Society of

British Advertisers, said there was concern among advertisers that they

should have a more direct say in the running of Barb.



Jerry Hill, the chief executive of TSMS, announced that changes were

under way to the Barb structure - currently dominated by ITV and BBC,

although agencies and advertisers are represented. ’We’re in discussion

to change the shareholding to reflect the structure of the broadcasting

world we’re now in,’ Hill said.



Frank Harrison, the head of media information at Zenith Media, outlined

how the industry’s own measurement system might look in the future. Barb

will continue to use electronic meters linked to TV sets to measure

live-only, minute-by-minute ratings for major stations, as well as

providing figures on fewer demographic groups for groups of minor

stations with larger regions.



This could then be supplemented by a diary survey to cover quarter-hour

ratings for all small stations across one week, four times a year, with

a sample which meets station needs and is integrated with the meter

data.



In addition, ad hoc research, endorsed by the Institute of Practitioners

in Advertising, could be paid for by the media owners.