TV audience measurement validation
Beginning in 1981 a new facility became available in France : the household audience meter coupled with the Audimat panel system. Each day the viewing figures for the previous 24 hours were made available, precise to the second. And because these measurements were taken automatically, they were bias-free. These measurements, however, only concerned the operation of televisions, without showing who was watching or listening. A system which was already in use in a number of European countries attracted the attention of the various parties concerned. This was the push-button system of audience measurement, which compliments the automatic household viewing measurements through personal declarations of viewing presence in the households concerned. Declarations, made instantaneously by telecommand, identify the individual concerned. However, the professionals were not convinced that this system would be successful in France, believing it to be too constricting and fearing that it would introduce a sampling bias or encourage irregular declarations in the audience behaviour patterns. To answer these doubts in greater depth than by simply examining the experiences of different European countries - which had in fact proved positive- two tests were carried out. Participation in push-button panels for TV audience measurement is today of an very high standard, and together with the extremely representative character of the panels themselves provides audience measurement figures that are very reliable indeed. We now shall describe the requisite methodological steps and their results, essential in France as in all other countries for a fully reliable system.
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