Aussie TV Agrees on Joint Ratings Panel


Sydney, Australia -- After more than six months of
negotiations, Australia's broadcast networks and pay TV operators have signed off on a
panel that will measure both free-to-air and multichannel TV viewing.

The agreement was signed earlier this month, and it is seen
as a major step forward for the pay TV market. It means multichannel-viewing figures will
be available for the first time in the industry's five-year history.

The first figures will be released July 26, taken from a
4,300-home ACNielsen Australia "Peoplemeter" panel.

ACNielsen will now take Peoplemeter figures from about
4,300 homes across the country, merging the 3,975 homes in the broadcasting sample base
with the 375-home pay TV sample base.

The creation of the panel also comes as pay TV penetration
has reached about 1 million subscribers, or 15 percent of Australia's 6.8 million TV

The viewing numbers will put to test the assertion by cable
operator Optus Vision that pay TV households spend 45 percent to 50 percent of their
viewing time watching pay TV channels.

However, there's a wider significance to the panel,
according to David Malone, CEO of advertising rep firm Multichannel Network, which sells
local ad time for MSO Foxtel and direct-to-home and wireless platform Austar Entertainment
Pty Ltd.

Malone said advertisers, broadcasters and pay TV
programmers will receive more consistent data, which will include cumulative information
on TV viewing. In the past, the TV industry has had to work with separate data for pay TV
and broadcast-TV viewing.

However, the pay TV figures are unlikely to be released in
the same way as the broadcast figures, which detail household viewing in two-minute

The pay figures will be compiled into "national share
of viewing" figures, "overall figures for program genres" and
"individual channel" figures, according to a pay TV industry source.

"Our focus will be on share of [total] viewing, which
is quite strong. We won't be bogged down by ratings points," a source at Foxtel said.

So far this year, ad revenues for cable and satellite
platforms have reached about $A20 million to $A25 million ($US13.2 million to $US16.5