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Arab satellite TV to get rating system

Initiative paves way for higher advertising rates

BAGHDAD – Arab satellite television will have a long-awaited independent audience monitoring system by next year, which will enable it to push up its advertising rates, it was announced at the Middle East Broadcasting Summit in Dubai last week.

The system will be sponsored by a consortium of broadcasters and advertisers, Sam Barnett, chief operating office of MBC Group, told delegates.

“We think the people meter initiative is critical. We are fully behind this. Advertisers are getting a massive bargain.”

In a study published in August, the influential Arab Advisers Group pinpointed the lack of a rating system as one of the reasons for low ad rates in Arab satellite television, saying it diminished the bargaining power of TV stations.

Barnett said he expects the system to be in place by the end of 2008, with the benefit to be seen in higher advertising rates in 2009.

Figures released at the summit showed ad spending in the region is growing but still lagging in developed markets.

According to the Pan Arab Research Center, per capita ad spending in the United Arab Emirates is $229 and a lowly $39 in Saudi Arabia. In Britain, the figure is $431, in the U.S. $542 and in Hong Kong $886.

The Arab Advisers Group said the average rate for a free-to-air satellite TV channel in the Arab world in 2007 is $3,698 for a 30-second advertisement during peak time.

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