It is high time that those in the industry engage in debates and discussions about television that dealwith details and specifics rather than generalities. When it comes to television, both state ownedand private, there is so much that needs to be done beyond issues of censorship and freedom whichhave thus far dominated mainstream debates about the media in Egypt. The need for regulation,Public Service Broadcasting, editorial integrity in news and current affairs are all issues that needimmediate attention. They are all issues that are closer to my heart and career than what I havechosen to speak about, namely: Audience Measurement of Television in Egypt.It is in my opinion a cornerstone of any developed television environment and thus far audiencemeasurement in Egypt has been wanting in many respects.I would like to note at the outset that this modest endeavour is mostly based on interviews withpractitioners on the data gathering side and channel marketing. Solid information was very hard tocome by which highlights one of the key problems with audience measurement in Egypt- that of transparency about the processes and methodologies involved. Of the three major data providers, Iwas only able to gather basic information about two companies. One uses telephone interviews togather data the day after the viewing occurs. The other company uses a diary system to gather itsdata. Both these systems are non-automated, which underscores a crucial weakness in the wholeprocess. According to experts in the field rural areas are the least surveyed in their coverage of Egypt. That alone poses another serious deficiency in the whole project.The diary system is based on a checklist that is given to households and is collected on a weekly basisand analysed to produce a viewership report that reports on ratings including the demographics of the viewership. The data is manually recorded at 15 minute intervals by a member of the household.Moreover, the diary tends to be filled out by the female in the household, which according to someprofessionals in the field leaves the male understated in the survey. The diary system also does nottake into account viewership that occurs outside the home, say in the coffee house for example,which also underlines another weakness. The proponents of the diary argue that it is gathered inreal time as the viewing is happening in contrast to the telephonic method which conductsinterviews the day after the viewing. The diary system is essentially paid for by the very peoplewhose channels are in the survey and thus potential bias can occur since those channels andprogrammes are pre-listed in the list. For the rest of the market t
here is a slot that covers “other”
channels. So while the diary system will have a list of channels and programmes to be checked bythe subject, the telephonic
system will ask the subject a general question: “what did you watch
”. The telephonic system eventually results in a report that
also measures ratings anddemographics.