Barb panel installation fails to meet deadline

Despite finally releasing the consolidated "gold standard" audience

data for January, the chaos at Barb looks set to continue following an

admission that the organisation is still having problems with its

audience panel.

The final date when the completed 5,100-strong panel is put in place has

been put back to June - agencies had previously been told that it would

be ready by the end of the first quarter.

Barb has also admitted that the current panel is not balanced

regionally, which has led to dramatic distortions between regional and

network audiences on ITV and the BBC.

In a statement, Barb put the apparent decline in young audiences down to

panel members failing to register their presence. But the organisation,

which has enlisted the help of Media Audits in verifying its data,

claims this will be eliminated through a re-education programme.

Barb's chief executive, Caroline McDevitt, said: "We are confident that

the teething problems of recruiting and installing a new and much larger

panel have been resolved."

The consolidated data up to 20 January suggests that the downward trend

for commercial viewing was not a blip caused by the unusual viewing

trends that are common early in the New Year.

According to figures from Media Planning Group, total adult commercial

viewing was down 11.2 per cent, and ITV's share of this fell the most

dramatically - down from 48.6 per cent to 41.1 per cent. Channel 5

experienced a 1.5 per cent increase while multichannel share was up 4.1

per cent.

The figures are even more dramatic when looking at actual hours viewed

by adults across total TV. ITV viewing has dropped by just under 25 per

cent, BBC1 by 10.7 per cent while Channel 5 and multi-channel are up by

5 per cent and 9 per cent respectively. Total TV is down by 9.7 per