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.