British JIC Joins The MRC

In a sign of just how international the audience-measurement marketplace has become – thanks in part to the emergence of OTT, streaming and CTV platforms that know no borders – the U.K.’s Barb (formerly Broadcasters’ Audience Research Board) Audiences has joined the U.S.’s Media Rating Council (MRC).

While Barb is not the first international measurement entity to become an MRC member, its membership is significant, because Barb has long been recognized as a gold standard for operating a tripartite joint industry committee (JIC) equally representing the voices of advertisers, agencies and media sellers, and it comes at a time when the MRC is contending with a U.S. JIC organized by media-owned OpenAP, which doesn’t exactly operate that way.

Beyond that, Barb also is a kindred spirit with the MRC in terms of auditing and accrediting measurement services, albeit ones that license and integrate Barb’s linear and digital audience-measurement data into various cross-platform measurement services.



“The MRC has played a really important role in the U.S., and we think increasingly that they can have a role to play in other parts of the world,” Barb Chief Executive Justin Sampson says, adding that the membership is expected to work two ways, including Barb having a greater influence on the audits and accreditation of U.S.-based measurement services.

As a member of the MRC, Barb will have a seat on the MRC board and will have the right to review measurement service audits and vote on their accreditation.

“There is an opportunity for us to share our experience from the U.K.,” Sampson explains, noting: “Without wishing to be immodest, we’ve made quite significant progress to bring all the streamers and the broadcasters into one measurement system. So we’ve learned quite a lot along the way.

“I’m not saying we’ve cracked everything, but we can see the opportunity for cross-fertilization to benefit both sides.”

That said, the move raises questions about the evolution of the MRC’s charter, which was originally conceived with Congress to operate as domestic U.S. self-regulatory organization under a consent decree with the U.S. Department of Justice.

"Barb is brought in through the international committee," an MRC spokesperson explained to MediaPost, referring to one of six committees operated by the MRC, adding, "Just like we have Televisa or TV Azteca as members or the Association of Canadian Advertisers or WFA or ISBA."

"We are centering activities in the international committee so as to not have impact on our U.S. activities, in fact typically the JICs do not participate in localized audits for areas like TV in the U.S.," he continued, noting that most of the international committee member voting, including Barb's, is "in relation to audited process cross-borders such as Google or Meta.

"They do cast votes in proceedings such this as, but this is not inappropriate," he explained, adding, "When MRC formed the international committee many years ago the DOJ was made aware."

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