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RAJAR to test an Online Diary

RAJAR has abandoned its trial of an electronic alternative to its diary-based ratings system after spending over three million pounds researching the scheme. Instead, RAJAR is looking to investigate the introduction of a new online digital survey.

It was hoped by many in the industry that electronic meters would offer a more accurate system for recording listeners. Instead, RAJAR has hired Morag Blazey, former chief executive officer of PHD Media Ltd, to undertake an industry-wide consultation and oversee the possible introduction of an online diary system. Plus, future requirements for podcasting, programming information, time-shifted listening and event response.

Morag Blazey says: “The pace of change in the radio market is dizzying, and quite rightly RAJAR feels it is necessary to keep pace in order to serve its users as effectively as possible. The project I have been asked to undertake is really interesting, far reaching and genuinely democratic in its intent. I am really excited to be part of it.”

International research agency, Nunwood, has already been commissioned to design an online, interactive diary which is to be field tested in July 2008.

The decision by the RAJAR Board (which represents all sectors of the radio and advertising industries) to draw a line under its current investment in the experimental electronic measurement panel in London, (launched in January 2007 as a joint venture with BARB) was unanimous.

Following a review of the first year’s research it was felt that the pace of change and innovation within the industry needed swifter action than electronic measurement is able to offer at this juncture. It has therefore been agreed with TNS (the panel contractor) to cease further data collection from the end of June 2008, and to focus solely on analysing the data already obtained. The Board has also concluded that electronic measurement will not form part of the 2009 RAJAR contract due to significant concerns regarding issues of panellists’ behaviour and the feasibility of meter measurement to deliver a credible UK currency for the entire industry, at an affordable cost.

De la Bedoyere continued: “The RAJAR Board’s decision to draw a line under its current investment in the audiometer panel with TNS and actively pursue online diaries is a rational and pragmatic one. Over the past year the pilot has delivered a wealth of data but it has continued to high-light serious concerns with respondent compliance, particularly at breakfast time. In addition, the pilot has thrown up a range of concerns involving sample sizes, panel composition and the practicalities of operating a panel for the entire UK radio market. It was in the light of these concerns, as well as the prospect of a doubling of the financial burden once BARB decided not to renew its involvement in the panel for a second year, that the decision was made.

Andrew Harrison, chief executive, RadioCentre said: "RAJAR is one of the most robust audience measurement surveys in the world and has a proven track record of pro-actively evaluating new technologies. It is therefore great news that steps are being taken to move the survey online which provides an opportunity to keep RAJAR relevant to its valued respondents in a digital age. In the last couple of years we have seen a huge shift in the way people listen to radio and I’m delighted that Morag Blazey will be undertaking a consultation to ensure we continue to have the best measurement system that captures all listening now and into the future.”

Kelvin MacKenzie, the former owner of TalkSport was quoted in the Times newspaper yesterday saying "to drop the electronic research was an absolutely shocking decision".

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