TV not in decline

Rob Young's column ('The rise and fall of the TV empire,' Aug. 28, '00) is an example of what is really wrong with the TV industry - it is an industry beset by wrong-headed and flimsy analysis....

Rob Young’s column (‘The rise and fall of the TV empire,’ Aug. 28, ’00) is an example of what is really wrong with the TV industry – it is an industry beset by wrong-headed and flimsy analysis.

Rob points to several ‘clues’, including a story in The Globe and Mail, and concludes that there has been a decline in TV use and a corresponding increase in Internet use among teens. He invokes BBM data to make his point.

The accompanying graph shows long-term trends in teen viewing according to both BBM and Nielsen Media Research. Rob claims that teen viewing has declined by 20%. Well, this is not true. BBM, in fall and spring ‘sweep’ weeks, shows that teen viewing has fallen by about 10% in the last decade. (This could be during sweep weeks only, so one must look at all other available data.) Nielsen, which measures 52 weeks per year, shows that teen viewing has fluctuated over the decade between 14-16 hours per capita and there has been no discernible pattern of decline.

Rob claims that the growth in satellite dishes, especially in smaller markets, is the cause of the decline in viewing! Pardon me? What does Rob think these satellite dish owners are doing with their satellite dishes – something other than watching TV?

Television is not in a state of decline; if anything, television usage overall is increasing, despite the growth in Internet use. Analysis of the TV industry and the audience in particular, however, is another matter.

Barry Kiefl

Corporate Director of Research,

Canadian Broadcasting

Corporation

Ottawa, Ont.

Bkiefl@sympatico.ca