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Readership Row Splits Australian Media

August 24 2009

Australian readership research is in flux as incumbent currency provider Roy Morgan declines to take part in a new-look tender. As of yesterday, magazine publishing giant ACP has quit its national association in support of the Roy Morgan survey.

Industry consortium The Newspaper Works has called for expressions of interest from Australian and overseas research firms interested in the country's contract for newspaper and magazine readership from 2011 onwards, and will get that interest from Nielsen and TNS, and possibly from Ipsos. However the current currency provider Roy Morgan, which has been measuring newspaper readership since the seventies, says it will continue with its existing Single Source survey, paid for by individual media agencies and publishers.

Roy Morgan CEO Michele Levine has not categorically ruled out bidding for the new survey, but says given existing client commitments there will be two surveys in the market and it makes no sense for her company to do both, citing a 'lack of clarity about what they [Newspaper Works] want to achieve'. Commentators suggest that Roy Morgan could leave the proposed new survey dead in the water if it agreed to calls for new kinds of measurement to be added to its robust but limited survey: Morgan conducts 50,000 face-to-face interviews, but is under pressure to increase reporting frequency and include new measures such as online/print overlap, section readership and main reader data.

Newspaper Works, which announced the new tender process in June and launched it on Friday, has members including Fairfax Media, owner of The Age, News Limited, APN News & Media and West Australian Newspapers. On Friday, they were joined by the country's magazine industry via MPA (Magazines Publishers of Australia), which had earlier supported Roy Morgan - today's news throws the magazine picture back into doubt.

The controversy has apparently brought to a head existing differences between ACP and the associartion, which had already downgraded its membership in the last year. COO Matthew Stanton told The Australian that Single Source works well for ACP, adding: 'We will continue to use Morgans (and) we're actively supporting Morgans.' ACP produces one in every two magazines produced in Australia although MPA has five remaining members.

Thanks to www.smh.com.au and www.bandt.com.au for much of the above.

All articles 2006-21 written and edited by Mel Crowther and/or Nick Thomas unless otherwise stated.

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