Passive meter system Group applauds BBM move

A nine-member group of Quebec's top French radio and tv broadcasters is first out of the new measurement gate with a letter endorsing BBM Bureau of Measurement's move to the Arbitron passive meter system.LetterDenis Lacroix, vice-president of special projects at Montreal's...

A nine-member group of Quebec’s top French radio and tv broadcasters is first out of the new measurement gate with a letter endorsing BBM Bureau of Measurement’s move to the Arbitron passive meter system.


Denis Lacroix, vice-president of special projects at Montreal’s Telemetropole – one of the ad hoc group of nine – says the broadcasters sent a letter to bbm recently expressing their commitment to the passive measurement technology.


Lacroix says the letter promises bbm the broadcasters will buy the microcomputers necessary to embed the passive meters’ audio signal, offer bbm the expertise of their research departments during field trials, and will help arrange the participation of English-language broadcasters and specialty services as required.

Owen Charlebois, president and chief executive officer of bbm, says the Quebec broadcasters are the first to go public, although there has been a lot of quiet, private support for passive meters.

Lacroix, who signed the letter on their behalf, says what the broadcasters want to encourage is the selection of Montreal as a test city when field trials of passive meters begin.

Charlebois says it is certain the Quebec metropolis will be used as a test site.

He says limited tests of the passive meters’ audio signal are slated to begin this fall, adding a full, parallel test of passive meters is set for fall 1994.

Parallel test

He says the parallel test will measure data collection by passive meters and by diary during the fall sweeps week.

Charlebois promises a spring 1995 launch in Toronto and Montreal for a commercial passive meter system.


Lacroix says the broadcasters which have gone public with their support are Cogeco, Radio Mutuel, Radio Nord, Radio Quebec, Societe Radio-Canada, Telemedia, Television de la Baie de Chaleur and TV Quatre Saisons as well as Telemetropole.

He says the group is not happy with A.C. Nielsen’s People Meter measurement system.

He says broadcasters find its sample size limited and thus prone to error, that it does not measure out-of-home exposure, and is underrepresentative of the 18-34 age group and children and overrepresentative of the 50+ audience, among other things.

Lacroix says broadcasters find nothing wrong with bbm’s diary measurement, because it is consistent if nothing else, but they want to progress.

They find the lower cost of passive meters will mean greater distribution, a larger sample and fewer errors, the likelihood of the technology being used in at least 11 markets, and the measurement of radio, tv and out-of-home exposure.

Defence research

Passive meter technology comes from u.s. defence research and application.

Respondents wear a pocket pager-size meter which picks up an inaudible-to-the human-ear signal embedded in broadcast material before it goes to air.

Arbitron, the u.s. firm behind passive meters, says the information recorded on them can easily be uploaded to a computer for almost instant data analysis.