Meters stalled

A cloud of uncertainty has darkened the future of audience measurement in Canada despite The Arbitron Company's reassurances it will press ahead with its portable, passive people meter system after the axing of its syndicated tv ratings business.New York's Arbitron and...

A cloud of uncertainty has darkened the future of audience measurement in Canada despite The Arbitron Company’s reassurances it will press ahead with its portable, passive people meter system after the axing of its syndicated tv ratings business.

New York’s Arbitron and its Canadian partner, BBM Bureau of Measurement in Toronto, intended to use the portable, passive people meter in limited tests next fall with the spring of 1995 inked in for large-scale parallel testing.

‘Absolutely committed’

However, Owen Charlebois, president and chief executive officer of bbm, says now there will not be any spring of 1995 delivery, although Arbitron remains ‘absolutely committed’ to the passive meter.

Charlebois says the news of the syndicated ratings shutdown came out of the blue: ‘It really was a shocker for us.’

Charlebois says bbm, which has committed more than $1 million to the meter, will try to continue with the project as close to its original aims as possible, although any further comment is premature.

Thom Mocarsky, vice-president of communications at Arbitron in New York, says the company remains committed to the development of the meter, but it is too early to comment until Arbitron and its partner and licensees have met to discuss the future.

Separate matters

Mocarsky insists Arbitron’s passive meter project and the closure of its tv ratings business at the end of the year are separate matters.

Peter Swain, president of Toronto’s Media Buying Services and a former chairman of a task force on meters, says it is necessary to push on with meters since ‘we all know meters work.’

Speaking shortly before Strategy went to press, Charlebois says an Oct. 28 meeting in Laurel, Md. with Arbitron, bbm and representatives of licensees AGB McNair/ Australia and AGB McNair/New Zealand, should establish where things go from here.

Swain suggests Arbitron may decide to recoup some of the money it has sunk into the passive meter project by selling off the technology. DC