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Rajar abandons meter testing and plans online diary

LONDON - Radio audience measurement body Rajar is terminating the trial of its electronic measurement system six months early and is instead opting for a new online diary to record listener numbers.

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Rajar had committed around £1m to a two-year trial of the Arbitron Portable People Meter measurement system, which was introduced in January 2007 as a joint venture with television audience measurement body Barb.

However, following a review, Rajar said it will cease further data collection from the end of June, when its contract with research firm TNS will come to an end.

Research agency Nunwood is currently designing an alternative system for the organisation -- an online version of its pen-and-paper diary. Rajar said the online diary will be field tested in July and if successful will be incorporated into the measurement body's main survey.

Sally de la Bedoyere, Rajar's managing director, described its decision to draw a line under the investment in the audiometer as a "rational and pragmatic one".

De la Bedoyere said: "Over the past year the pilot has delivered a wealth of data but it has continued to highlight 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."

Rajar has also hired Morag Blazey, the former PHD chief executive, to head up an industry consultation looking at how the Rajar survey should evolve in the constantly shifting media landscape. The consultation is being launched today.

De la Bedoyere said: "We are looking forward eagerly to the results of Morag Blazey's consultation with the industry which we are hoping will provide us with a clear direction on how the radio industry would like to move forward. In addition, her findings will be crucial to the shaping of Rajar's next three-year strategy which is to be announced towards the end of this year."

Rajar has invested £3.5m into researching new forms of measurement technology.

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