Audience Ratings: Radio, Television, and Cable

By Hugh Malcolm Beville Jr. | Go to book overview
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cable (except by meters) and VCR time-shift usage. Concomitant with those questions are the measurement implications of frequent remote-control switching and consequent avoidance of commercials (known as zapping), especially among cable subscribers, and the fast-forwarding or editing out of commercials in VCR households.

Can diary weaknesses be overcome by peoplemeters? This question can only be answered when currently planned national services produce actual results in the 1987-1988 broadcast season. Even this test alone cannot answer questions about conditioning and panel wearout with peoplemeters. Additional time will be required. Even a positive answer would leave much of the nation without the benefit of the meter solution, so local TV ratings services have to press forward in quest of improved diary accuracy relative to cable originations. We can expect a serious search for viable means to achieve passive measurement systems to replace or supplement push-button peoplemeters.

Over the years the methods and the accuracy of ratings systems have frequently been challenged. However, the integrity, objectivity, and fairness of the people delivering the audience numbers have rarely been questioned. This is the legacy of Crossley, Hooper, Nielsen, Roslow, and Seiler. These pioneers set ethical and professional standards that have been carried on by their successors. May we see the imprint of their principles on those services that may emerge to measure electronic media audiences in the future.

Few people were as successful as David Samoff not only in foreseeing the future but in making it happen. Some examples are his 1915 vision of mass radio audiences receiving music, news events, and sports results over a "Radio Music Box," his founding of NBC to provide quality radio service, his foresight in 1929 in backing Vladimir Zworykin to successfully pursue electronic television, his determination to launch commercial television at the New York World's Fair in 1939, and his indefatigable pioneering and $200 million commitment to compatible electronic color (now used in 90 percent of U.S. households) in the face of vicious competitive attacks.
"IRTS, Brings Big Names Together," Broadcasting, February 6, 1984, p. 52, a report on the twelfth annual faculty/industry and college conference of the International Radio and Television Society.
"Enhancement--Next TV Set Revolution," Television Digest, March 19, 1984, p. 11.
Sandra Salmans, "Cable Operators Take a Bruising," The New York Times, March 4, 1984, Section 3, p. 1.
"TCI Buys Pittsburgh System," "Television Digest", March 26, 1984, p. 6.


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