Hackers crack Ibope

Co. institutes temporary panel of 500 homes

BUENOS AIRES — Ibope, Argentina’s only ratings service, was back in action last week after suspending its service for three weeks when someone hacked into its database and revealed 25% of the homes it uses to measure what viewers watch.

The problem began in January when many advertisers and media buyers received an anonymous email identifying around 800 homes Ibope uses to measure viewing preferences.

The Camara de Control de Medicion de Audencia (CCMA), an auditor representing ad agencies, advertisers, broadcasters and producers, said the list was false. Nevertheless, it began a probe into alleged irregularities of Ibope’s service.

More anonymous emails revealed the homes equipped with Ibope’s people-meters that measure what people watch. By mid-April 200 of these households were made public, forcing Ibope to halt its service.

Now Ibope will use a temporary panel of 500 homes, implement stricter control measures and divulge ratings after 48 hours instead of 24. It will gradually enlarge its panel to 700 homes by Sept. 30, and then continue the process until its panel is renovated.

At the same time, CCMA will monitor Ibope’s ratings closely, the watchdog said in a statement.

The lack of ratings sparked uproar in the industry.

“It’s like a doctor who can’t take a pulse or a bank without money,” Raul Lecouna, owner of independent prodco Central Park, told Variety. “We’re working in the dark without ratings.”

Lecouna launched romantic comedy “Dr. Amor” (Dr. Love) on the day the ratings service was suspended. Have viewers tuned in? He doesn’t really know.

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