Suspension of Barb may affect audience data until February

Henry Lawson, the chief operating officer of Donovan Data Systems,

has warned that the suspension of Barb could continue to affect audience

data until the end of the month, despite Barb's intention to release

live and consolidated data by 15 January.

He said: "The big problem is not having had quality data. If the data on

15 January needs work then it will take several days before it is clean

and usable for full analysis and things may not be back to normal until

the end of January."

The suspension of audience data arose following problems caused by the

introduction of new equipment and the selection of an entirely new panel

of viewers - the first time this has happened in 30 years.

Barb originally intended to administer the new panel alongside the old

for a four-week period of analysis, but was unable to do this before the

old panel became defunct at the end of December. This has meant that it

has been forced to implement diagnostic tests before the data can be

published as "gold standard".

Lawson blamed ATR, the company responsible for installing the Barb boxes

in panellists' homes. "The root cause is that the installation of boxes

in panel homes is behind and it's still not up to the requirements of

the panel size," he said.

Chris Boothby, the director of broadcasting at BBJ, said that the lack

of data was frustrating both for agencies and clients. He added: "This

is something that could and should have been sorted out before the old

panel was turned off and the new one was introduced."

DDS, which supplies 34 out of the top 35 agencies, has increased

processing capacity by 50 per cent to meet with expected high demand on

15 January.