Latin American cable to track commercial blocking

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MIAMI--Cable systems in Latin America will finally began to installsoftware in December that can track commercial blocking, according to theTelevision Association of Programmers (TAP) Latin America.

The industry association's advertising council has been promoting thesoftware system since previously programmers had to rely on manualtrackers, "where there is too much chance of human error," said MaryPittelli, president and CEO of Tap Latin America.

While the programmers have suspected that some cable system operators havebeen blocking their commercial feed to put on a locally-sold ad, they havenot had reliable data to date.

"We think it is a big problem, but we have no way of quantifying it," saysMs. Pittelli. "Once we get the first report, we can address it."

The system will be launched initially on 12 systems, then rolled out in the region, she says. "We hope to have our first beta report by February, or before the end of the first quarter."

TAP Latin America is also working closely with the cable industry and IBOPE on ratings data for key markets like Argentina, Brazil, Mexico and Chile.

"Our goal is to have some sort of universal currency by which the numbersare deduced," says Ms. Pittelli. "Next year we will work on what thenumbers mean because the cable samples are very small."

The programmers are anxious to boost pay-TV's share of the Latin Americanad pie - an effort that should benefit the cable operators as well, saysMs. Pittelli. "The opportunities for local advertising are tremendous," she says. "Look at the U.S. cable operators."

Copyright December 1999, Crain Communications Inc.

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