TORONTO - In a battle of research consulting firms, Nordicity has fired back at Canadian Media Research Inc.'s Barry Kiefl for his recent blog that was critical of its ad research for CBC. The blog was written last month by Kiefl who was formerly research director at CBC for nearly 20 years until he left in 2001.
In November of 2011, international consulting firm Nordicity released an assessment on the impact of removing advertising from CBC/Radio-Canada. The report, entitled Why Advertising on CBC/Radio-Canada is Good Public Policy and commissioned by the CBC, concluded that “Removing ads from CBC/Radio-Canada’s services would result in a significant reduction of Canadian content and have serious consequences for both the independent production sector and advertisers.”
As first reported by Cartt.ca, the study estimated that ending advertising on CBC/Radio-Canada would produce a net financial impact of $533 million, including a $160 million reduction in Canadian programming expenditures.
Kiefl posted a blog this past September 5th, entitled “CBC TV: Domino Effect Snowballing into a Chain Reaction” that questioned Nordicity’s research findings since the study made “no reference to the most obvious effect of eliminating ads, i.e., the effect on CBC radio services, which have already seen budgets cut to support CBC TV.”
Kiefl noted that the CBC, according to Nordicity, generated the smallest audience for public monies spent of all the public broadcasters they examined. He wrote that when ad revenues were included, CBC did no better.
“Why then does CBC have ads, if advertising revenue does not improve and may be detrimental to audience performance?” asks Kiefl in his blog.
Nordicity in a news release, doesn’t directly respond to Kiefl’s basic question, but does claim that Kiefl’s blog is based on “erroneous information and makes factual errors,” including the following:
•Your article states “Nordicity dismisses PBS as a model for CBC to emulate because of its puny 1.3% audience.” Quite to the contrary, audience is a secondary concern of our analysis. The primary concern is clearly stated in conclusion #4 on page 13: “The PBS operating structure, revenue model, and program production financing could not be readily replicated in Canada.”
•Your article implies we misled readers about PBS’s viewing level: “The Nordicity report refers numerous times to audience share and then slips in the reference to PBS's 1.3% … Well, the 1.3% is PBS’s prime time household rating.” In fact, we clearly state on page 13 of the report that PBS has a 1.3% rating: “Its [PBS’s] primetime ratings for US networks … is still only 1.3%.”
•Your article states that: “Since only about 35% of people are watching TV in the average minute of prime time, a 1.3% rating translates into a share of almost 4% (i.e., 1.3%/35%). That is not much different than CBC TV's current share.” In fact, CBC TV’s prime time audience share is double, which in audience terms is a very significant difference.
•You suggest that we were negligent by overlooking a key data source: “The actual cost of CBC sales and promotion was reported by the CRTC to be in excess of $136 million in 2011, data overlooked in Nordicity's report.” In fact, we cited the CRTC as a source for our estimate in our report on page 16, Table 1.
In addition to the factual misrepresentations of its work, Nordicity charges that Kiefl makes “basic audience research errors and misrepresent[s]” his own survey data. It cites:
•Throughout your article you make statements about the views and opinions of Canadians based on your CMRI survey. Your survey cannot purport to state any facts about Canadians, since your survey is of “900 Anglophone respondents” and by definition excludes all francophone Canadians.
Nordicity concludes that “anyone can formulate positions that represent different views of the same observed information, we are confused by many of your interpretations.” It cites the following examples:
•You state that the CRTC would insist that all or a substantial portion of the additional advertising revenues accruing to private broadcasters (in the scenario of elimination of CBC advertising) be spent on Canadian content. However, your opinion contradicts the historical behaviour of the private broadcasters which have opposed any increase in their conditions of licence - much less spontaneously investing in Canadian content.
•In your article, you indicate that “CBC rates are lower than those for private stations" and "CBC undercuts the rates of private TV stations." Yes, in general CBC rates are lower, but the objective of sales managers in CBC/Radio-Canada - which include some of the brightest talent from private broadcasting - is to maximize advertising dollars based on ratings on prime properties such as Hockey Night in Canada. Lacking the top-rated prime time US shows, CBC gets market rates that are commensurate with its ratings.