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Producer slams ratings service Ibope

Argentine producer Gvirtz takes out ad

BUENOS AIRES — America TV gossip show producer Diego Gvirtz slammed Ibope Argentina Thursday in a half-page newspaper ad, sparking fresh debate about the accuracy of the country’s only ratings agency.

Running in two national papers, the ad denounced Ibope for biased, unreliable ratings and blasted ratings auditor Camara de Control de Medicion de Audencia (CCMA) for its “inept” control.

In the ad, Gvirtz also lashed out at industryites who he claims allow the system to persist out of fear, indifference or laziness.

An Ibope spokesman said it would continue to operate in Argentina with “dedication and professionalism … despite these unfair and arbitrary attacks.”

Gvirtz’s ad comes at a tense time for Ibope.

It restarted its overnight ratings service this month, six months after a computer hacker broke into its database. The attack forced Ibope to suspend its service for three weeks and to renew a quarter of its panel of viewers, a costly process it has only just finished. During that time, it cut its frequency of publishing ratings to 48 hours and took other measures to ensure accuracy and transparency.

In August, producers and TV hosts complained publicly that Ibope’s ratings for their shows were lower than those in other studies, saying this was costing them ad revenue.

Citing an incomplete study by ratings auditor CCMA, they said Ibope’s ratings unfairly discriminated against shows on fourth-ranked America TV (owned by Carlos Avila) and second-ranked Artear-Canal 13 (Grupo Clarin) in favor of leader Telefe (Telefonica’s Admira).

CCMA and other advertising and TV industry groups have since backed Ibope’s system. Even so, trust in the system has declined.

“We’re not 100% confidant that its ratings are accurate, but it’s the only system here so we have to use it,” one media buyer said.

Nevertheless, Diego Abadie, a manager of media buying firm Media Planning Argentina, said, “It is better to have the ratings as they are than not at all.”

Ratings accuracy has become a heated topic over the past two years as broadcasters fight over a diminished advertising market.

Ad spending dropped about 35% last year as the currency slumped 65% against the U.S. dollar and the economy shrank 11%, pushing most TV broadcasters into the red. America and third-ranked Canal 9, owned by Daniel Hadad, are in bankruptcy protection.

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