chapter
12 Pages

Auditel

Following an agreement in 1984 between RAI (state television) and the private television networks which had emerged in the wake of the deregulation of television broadcasting in 1975 (see broadcasting), Auditel was instituted as an independent research organization for monitoring the viewing habits of ‘typical’ Italians by a system of electronic meters attached to the television sets of anonymous ‘average’ families. Monitoring began in December 1985 and television programming soon came to be almost completely determined by the Auditel ratings, especially during the ‘television wars’ of the late 1980s. The credibility of the agency’s figures was often widely contested, particularly on the grounds of too limited a sample (originally there were 633 meters for all of Italy, later increased to 1,300 and finally in 1997 to 8,000 meters, monitoring 5,000 families) but Auditel ratings continued to be the touchstone for television programming well into the 1990s. By this time the agency had expanded its survey methods to include regular personal interviews and also began to publish its data on the World Wide Web.