COI Communications, the administrative interface between the British government and its roster of advertising and marketing agencies, has categorically denied a press report [WAMN: 19-Dec-03] that it is set to defect from Britain's radio audience measurement system RAJAR .
According to a COI spokeswoman, the report that it was about to enter into negotiations with radio dissident Kelvin MacKenzie, chairman of Rupert Murdoch's The Wireless Group, had "completely misrepresented the situation".
Recalling Mark Twain's dismissal of reports of his death as "greatly exaggerated", so too it seems is COI's defection to the MacKenzie camp -- which champions the rival GfK electronic measurement methodology.
"Kelvin has offered to come in and show us the GfK survey but we have always said there needs to be a consensus within the industry if a change is to be made … we support a technology-based system but whether Kelvin's suggestion is the way still has to be proven."
By strange coincidence, a second and related tabloid-style rumour hit the ground running late last week. It seems that talks aimed at averting high court action between TWG and RAJAR collapsed amid the former's avowal of "shocking revelations" yet to come.
According to TWG, discussions between Mackenzie and the ratings body came to an abrupt end: "There were some shocking revelations from RAJAR," claimed TWG," that we were absolutely unaware of; that were very serious and will have very serious repercussions for RAJAR."
Then, for good measure, TWG added ominously: "It's worse than we thought." At which point the unnamed spokesman got all coy and declined to elaborate further on the issue. It now remains to be seen whether MacKenzie makes good his oft-repeated threat to sue the ratings body for its alleged downplaying of TWG's listening figures.
RAJAR was no more forthcoming about the content of the abortive meeting, but added: "We don't know what 'shocking revelations' [TWG] could possibly be referring to." It will be interesting to see if these dark allegations ever see light of day -- in or out of court.
Mackenzie is a former editor of The Sun, Britain's best-selling and most strident tabloid newspaper. "Shocking revelations" were his stock-in-trade.
Data sourced from: mad.co.uk and MediaGuardian.co.uk; additional content by WARC staff