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AGB Research Founder Dies

January 17 2008

Sir Bernard Audley, whose UK-based company AGB Research became the world's second-largest market research firm behind AC Nielsen, has died at the age of 83.

AGB (from the surnames of the three men who set up the firm - Audley, Dick Gapper and Douglas Brown) commenced trading in 1962. Within six years, AGB was providing TV ratings compiled from data drawn from a viewing panel of families using electro mechanical TV meters and diaries. AGB went on to develop the PeopleMeter, which monitored viewing by individuals, as distinct from households.

The company expanded abroad with its first overseas Television Audience Measurement (TAM) contract in Hong Kong around 1980. After making a number of acquisitions including NFO in America, McNair-Anderson in Australia and 50% of the Survey Research Group in Asia, AGB became the world's second-largest research firm.

In the late 1980s Audley challenged Nielsen for the TAM market in the US, but found that American broadcasters and advertisers were not prepared to switch to a British firm. This resulted in the company making huge financial losses which led to a £134m take-over by publisher Robert Maxwell.

However, following Maxwell's death in 1991, the firm was sold and the UK portion bought by Taylor Nelson - later to become TNS - and ultimately Nielsen bought the remaining share which it renamed AGB Nielsen Media Research.

After the take-over, Audley and his son Robert bought out an AGB subsidiary called Prolog, which became the core of new publishing, printing and marketing group, Caverswall Holdings.

Audley was born near Stoke-on-Trent in 1924. Part way through his studies at Corpus Christi College, Oxford, war broke out and he joined the King's Dragoon Guards which took him to fight in Italy, Greece and Palestine. After the war, he completed his degree, and then worked for Hulton Press, and Television Audience Measurement Ltd, which provided ratings for ITV. He later joined MR firm Attwood, but left with colleagues Gapper and Brown to form AGB.

During his lifetime, Audley was involved with a number of charities and it was for this work that he was knighted in 1985. He and his wife Barbara had two sons and a daughter.

All articles 2006-20 written and edited by Mel Crowther and/or Nick Thomas unless otherwise stated.

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