New specification for RAJAR

The RAJAR Board has approved recommendations for the new contract specification and is to issue an Invitation to Tender within the week.

RAJAR expects tenders to be submitted by the end of this year, with the new contract being awarded in the early part of 2006, and due to start in 2007.

The new contract specification, developed in conjunction with the RAJAR Specification Working Group, includes a broad brief, which seeks to embrace the changing face of radio and reflect any new possibilities that may arise from the current national audiometer fieldwork test programme. There is also scope for any innovations that may come from the contractors themselves to be included.

Tenders are invited for a wide range of methodologies, from full audiometer, or a diary plus audiometer panel to a number of hybrid solutions, and, unlike previous contracts, companies will be able to pitch for the entire contract or specific parts.

Following the Invitation to Tender, RAJAR is to issue the full specification to companies who register their interest. Tenderers are to be given three months to submit their proposals, from which a shortlist is to be compiled. Submissions will then be reviewed and a new contract awarded in the first quarter of 2006. This should allow sufficient time for a series of parallel runs to take place during 2006 as well as a period for manufacturing, prior to the introduction of the new survey in 2007.

Said Sally de la Bedoyere, managing director, RAJAR: ?The RAJAR Board has taken a number of major decisions which will enable us to forge ahead on all fronts for the remainder of this year, namely its approval of the contract specification, the agreement to issue an Invitation to Tender and its continued support for our national fieldwork tests.

?RAJAR is tasked by its subscribers to select the very best methodology for the radio industry and therefore we must pursue every avenue which presents itself so we can deliver thoroughly tested, accurate and affordable ?gold-standard? data both now and in the future. Over the past six weeks we have discussed all the implications of the new specification with our subscribers and I am pleased to report that the level of concord and confidence in the recommendations has been very positive from all sectors. I am in no doubt that the new specification will serve the requirements of our subscribers and the future radio landscape well.?

New specification

As anticipated, the new specification requires future contractors to measure station output by both analogue and digital platforms, seeking to measure DTV, DAB as well as Internet. In addition, it details a range of requirements that RAJAR wants to see incorporated in the new survey including improvements to the radio map, sample design and reporting.

The new specification proposes that TSAs (total survey areas) be based on postcode districts rather than postcode sectors. This will not only simplify the radio map but also produce a more uniform and robust sample. All stations affected by the proposed new radio map will have the opportunity to redraw their TSAs. In addition, more effective and stable samples are sought, as well as improved demographic quotas for traditionally difficult sectors, especially young men and ethnic minorities.

While reporting will continue to be based upon TSA, an additional figure of all listening (national) based upon the stations? same survey period is required to reflect increased out of area listening in a digital age. Reporting times are to remain on a quarterly basis as per the present methodology but with a shorter turnaround time.

Fieldwork tests

RAJAR?s national audiometer fieldwork tests, to which RAJAR committed a further ?500,000 in April 2005, continue apace. The fixed panel test with the Arbitron Portable People Meter (PPM) commenced earlier than scheduled in May, while the rolling sweep tests on the Arbitron PPM and the laboratory tests on the Eurisko Media Monitor commenced in June and July respectively. In addition, RAJAR has started tests on a new audiometer developed by IPSOS-RSL, which uses mobile phone technology to capture encoded signals.

De la Bedoyere continued: ?I am happy to report that we are progressing with the national fieldwork tests. Both the fixed panel and rolling sweep are underway with the Arbitron PPM and field tests are to begin later this month on the Eurisko Media Monitor, for which we have been awaiting product delivery. In addition, we have been able to adapt some aspects of the testing programme to incorporate the emergence of a new audiometer, just announced in May 2005. This new audiometer is currently undergoing laboratory tests and if these are promising, then RAJAR should be able to test it in the field in the Autumn.

?All tests should be completed by the end of the year and will enable RAJAR to consider the results alongside the tenders before awarding a new contract early in 2006. The selected contractor will be required to undertake six months of parallel runs before introducing the new survey as the new radio industry ?gold standard? measurement in 2007.?

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