RAB letter defends Rajar methods

The RAB's managing director, Justin Sampson, has sent out a letter to agencies and advertisers in which he defends Rajar against the scathing attacks of Wireless Group's chairman and chief executive, Kelvin MacKenzie.

In the letter, Sampson concedes that MacKenzie has contributed to a "healthy debate" on the subject of the inadequacies of the current "paper diary" system of measuring radio listening figures.

But he goes on to state that "RAB believes it is important to push the debate forward as Rajar continues to invest a substantial six-figure sum investigating the potential of the two candidate technologies" and stresses the "need for diligence in implementing any new measurement tool".

The letter is accompanied by a recent Radio Audience Research Update report by Zenith Media, which, while agreeing with MacKenzie's doubts about the current system, states that "the worst thing the industry could do is rush into adopting a system without thoroughly researching and field testing all available options".

It adds that: "Kelvin has now done his job - he has moved this issue up the agenda. The Wireless Group would be best served now to bring itself back in the fold, share its own research findings with the rest of the industry and lobby behind the scenes with agencies and clients, rather than continuing to undermine the industry it is now a part of."

Sampson's letter follows an article in yesterday's Media Guardian entitled "The great ratings robbery" in which MacKenzie claimed the results of two tests commissioned by The Wireless Group showed that "many radio stations' audiences are much larger than they are credited with under the current ... system."

Rajar's diary system researches the listening habits of 130,000 people a year, but the method has been criticised for being too susceptible to human error.

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