Rating the ratings

Date of publication: May 1, 1994

Author: Trevor Sharot

Abstract:

Peoplemeter panels have been the principal tool for measuring TV audience behaviour for about ten years now, yet there is no universal agreement on the right way of running such a panel. Although bodies such as EAAA and EBU have started to explore the issue of harmonisation, many key areas have not yet been fully explored, while practice on other continents continues to differ in many ways. While different metering systems differ electronically, there are now many meters all of which provide the same basic research functions of monitoring station tuned and viewership via a remote handset. But there is much disparity, some of it long-standing, in the area of panel management. Three examples are given: the use of a claimed weight of viewing control; measures of and remedies for unpressed buttons; and the use of enforced rotation. Finally, many innovative and valuable methodological research methods have been devised yet they have not always been adopted elsewhere. This paper reviews where we are and how we got here, and asks where the heavens we're going.

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