According to a Canadian Media Research Inc. (CMRI) study commissioned by Rogers TV, the CRTC is incorrectly interpreting Bureau of Broadcast Measurement (BBM) statistics on television viewership numbers.
The CRTC is currently examining its community television policy. As part of this proceeding, it issued a report on April 8 which has been used by some critics of cable-provided community television to “prove” that Rogers TV is not often watched. The report states that in the 2008-09 broadcast year, Rogers’ community television stations generated a 0.2% share of the Canadian English-language television market.
The figure is misleading, the CMRI study concludes, because BBM share numbers measure viewership on a Canada-wide basis. But the fact is that no community television services are broadcast to national audiences. Barry Kiefl, President of CMRI states:
It is not possible to isolate Rogers subscribers in BBM data but if one
could, the audience reach (and audience share %) of Rogers community
channel would be substantially higher than shown in the table.
“The share figure is extremely misleading,” says Colette Watson, Vice President Rogers TV. “Given that Rogers Cable serves approximately 20% of TV households in Canada, Rogers TV’s share is actually closer to 1.0%. This figure compares favourably to other programming services available on basic cable, including CBC Newsworld, CTV News Channel, and YTV,” explains Watson.
Furthermore, according to Kiefl, audience reach and audience satisfaction are more suitable metrics for evaluating a community channel’s performance. Reach calculates the number of different people who watch the channel over a given amount of time, i.e. a week, a month or a broadcast season. By that standard, Rogers’ community channels are serving the needs of local viewers in Ontario, New Brunswick and Newfoundland.
“Millions of people are watching our community channels,” says Watson. “According to BBM data, audience reach for Rogers’ community channels was approximately 2 million viewers through most of the broadcast year,” adds Watson. “That’s the number we focus on.”
Audience satisfaction levels are high. CMRI conducts the “TV Trends and Quality (TVQ) Survey” annually to test consumer satisfaction with all channels available today via cable, DTH or over-the-air. In the 2009 TVQ Survey, over 20% of Rogers and Shaw subscribers indicated they watch the community channel at least once per week. The survey also revealed that over 70% of Rogers subscribers said they were satisfied or very satisfied with the community channel.
These findings echo similar research conducted in March 2010 by The Strategic Counsel. That study found that 73% of Rogers’ cable customers strongly value their Rogers community television service.
This year, Rogers’ 34 community TV stations will produce 17,000 hours of original local programming with the assistance of community volunteers.
Copies of CMRI’s complete review of the viewership information released by the CRTC are available upon request.