28 MAY 2003

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BA audience survey reveals much about elections, less about radio and TV

Labour’s media has registered positive gains in the Broadcasting Authority’s audience survey for 2003’s second quarter.
Both Super One TV and Radio saw their ratings shoot up from the 2002 fourth quarter ratings, maintaining pole position in radio and snatching TVM’s throne in the noon-1900hrs slot with 21.9 per cent of the audience share.
TVM saw a general decrease all across the board in its ratings, where mornings saw a decrease of 19.4 percentage points from 2002’s 58.7 per cent. Tista’ Tkun Int naturally remains TVM’s Sunday winner, at a peak of 84,000 viewers. Friday’s Xarabank garners 156,000 viewers, loftily looking down at Super One TV’s Robin Hood with 15,000 viewers.
But the survey has attracted a certain level of criticism this time around.
It had long been assumed that twice yearly audience share surveys have ignored media subtleties such as the seasonal launch of new programme schedules. Others have maintained the peak seasons for TV in the final months of the year tend to be ignored by the BA’s quantitative survey.
The biggest complaint that has emanated was the period chosen for the carrying out of the survey – a week following Easter (21 to 28 April), fresh out of hurricane elections.
No wonder then that relatively small Smash Radio, orbiting within the MLP universe, shot up modestly during April’s final week. It was equally unsurprising to see Radio 101 clinch third place, when in 2002’s fourth quarter it was ‘languishing’ at fifth place below Bay Radio and RTK.
Despite political overdrive, it was certainly unlikely to see the PN’s NET TV incurring losses in its morning, afternoon and evening schedules, whilst Super One is now the most popular TV station between noon and 1900hrs.
A general increase was however recorded for Mediaset channels (Italia 1, Rete 4, Canale 5) between noon and midnight, where they shot up by a total of 11.4 percentage points, clinching the second favourite viewing group between noon and 1900hrs after Super One TV. Political nausea seems to have played its part.
In all, the surveys reveal more about what the Maltese watched throughout the elections – Labour’s media and state TV registered the highest audiences, and when the Maltese had enough it was Italian TV that calmed the nerves.
The results of the survey have brought under scrutiny the level of information that can be offered by former Chief Justice Joseph Said Pullicino’s authority and established sociologist Mario Vassallo, who conducted the survey.
Pleas to have an ongoing survey have fallen short of the need for more funding. Said Pullicino yesterday revealed how both surveys already pose a relative strain on finances, which is why a form of daily, ongoing form of monitoring seems to have been effectively ruled out.
TV and radio station directors feel the survey does not give accuracy when it comes to proper evaluation. Some have argued this is what can only be expected from a biannual quantitative survey effectively lacks.

Copyright © Newsworks Ltd. Malta.
Editor: Saviour Balzan
The Business Times, Newsworks Ltd, 2 Cali House, Vjal ir-Rihan, San Gwann SGN 02, Malta
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