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NEWS29 January 2014

TV ratings row breaks out in Egypt

Legal Middle East and Africa News

EGYPT — A row over TV ratings has broken out in Egypt, with several broadcasters alleging that audience data is being skewed in favour of some channels; allegations that have been vehemently denied by Ipsos, the country’s TV audience measurement provider.

Media reports say that several channels – among them Dream, OnTV and CBC – had filed lawsuits against Ipsos, seeking damages on the grounds that low ratings had negatively affected their advertising income.

However Ipsos hit back, warning that it would take legal action itself “against any baseless accusations that defame both its name and its clients’ reputations”.

In a prepared statement, Ipsos Egypt’s managing director Amr Kais said: “We have no interest in manipulating or tweaking the research results to suit any personal or business interests, as this goes against the values and principles of the firm, as well as the dedicated team. Quite the contrary, we pride ourselves on providing a snapshot of the current market situation, to better serve our clients.”

Research followed up with Kais for an email Q&A. The text of our exchange follows:

Amr Kais, MD, Ipsos Egypt

Amr Kais, MD, Ipsos Egypt

How did this dispute come about?
AK:
Over the last few months, a number of regional satellite channels decided to invest significantly in Egypt, including new programmes and infrastructure. This has led to their viewership audience share to increase as reflected in our TV measurement system which we have been operating in Egypt since 2008.

Over the years, we often saw fluctuations in the weekly TV audience measurements. This is very common in such a dynamic market as Egypt, as this happens when new popular programmes are introduced or a big push by a certain TV channel.

During these five years, most of the local and regional TV stations in Egypt (and across other countries in MENA), have regularly visited our offices to understand the way we conduct our measurements. We are and have always been transparent with all on how we do the measurements. The channels always listen to actual live interviews and check on the controls we have in place. We have had no issues until now.

Could you describe the TV audience measurement system in place in Egypt?
AK:
It is based on the Day After Recall methodology using the CATI system, where interviewers call respondents (representative of urban Egyptians aged 15-plus) and ask them a set of questions to measure all TV stations viewership and behaviour.  

This is the methodology used across most of the Arab world and is approved and accredited by our clients. We typically ask questions about viewership behaviour, frequency of watching TV by day-part, what TV stations and programmes they watched yesterday, and many other questions to allow an accurate assessment of viewership behaviour.

Has Ipsos Egypt been formally served with legal papers?
AK:
No legal papers have been officially received or served from the courts. The investigations are still ongoing for the time being. The allegations are unjustifiable and are not based on facts. How can you take legal action against a research firm when some of the stations that are now protesting are in fact Ipsos Egypt’s clients, and have visited the offices before, to see how we conduct our research. Moreover, they are encouraged to bring auditors with them to the offices, and no disputes or allegations, by these numerous stations, have been made to date. This shift came about all of a sudden.

4 Comments

6 years ago

Goodness. My first reaction on reading this was "don't the people of Egypt have enough on their plates already"? Presumably analysis has established how having tens of thousands of protesters on the streets has hit audience sizes?

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6 years ago

It's all the umpires fault M'lud!

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6 years ago

Millions and millions of dollars rides on these ratings.... and the Middle East is hardly transparent. Yes Ruth - but doesn't that apply to all stations? From what i understand, the grip is from national broadcasters, that satellite figures are inflated.

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3 years ago

These acquisitions are normal reaction to businessmen who only cares for their profits, which ofcourse will go low after such low audience watching reports.

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