Who is watching?
The world of TV is changing everywhere, majorly influenced by the advent of satelltites. This change increases competition between TV stations and as such has a major impact on TV audience measurement. Because of the increasing number of stations, the choice for the consumer and thus for the advertiser is increasing. TV stations need to provide continuous data rather than the once or twice a year snapshot of a diary or a recall study. The data need to be comparable between stations and between countries making the peoplemeter more attractive. There has been encouraging progress in the Middle East since the last conference two years ago. There is more of a consensus between advertisers and the media on the need for proper audience measurement. The first peoplemeter panel has been installed in the UAE. This provides single source measurement for TV. There is still diversion of opinion as to who should pay for media research. The need for harmonization of audience measurement is increasing because of the overspill of programs and advertising messages from one country to the other. This necessitates comparable reading of data between countries. Lack of harmonization can lead to drastically different data as shown by several examples. The demands of the advertising community on an audience measurement system are mainly to get minute by minute ratings which are fully harmonized, accessible on line and paid for by TV stations. The generation and distribution of the data should be organized by tripartite advisory bodies of TV stations, advertising agencies and advertisers. Deep and open discussion is needed between the three parties in order to promote the penetration of peoplemeters throughout the Middle East. Top priority is with Saudi, Kuwait, Bahrain, Lebanon, and Egypt.
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