Thirty four years as an independent content specialist


Tape Consultancy Limited was conceived by the then media buying director of a UK advertising agency: Michael Firman.

It evolved from an original study of Sunday night concurrent movie results on UK television in 1964, just after a UK movie embargo had been lifted and Hollywood product flooded the TV screen in the then two channel market - BBC and ITV.

The competing Sunday night movies were preceded by religious programmes on both channels. Consequently the mass audience switch-on occurred with the start of the movies, so the audience distribution between the BBC and ITV was directly indicative of the relative appeal of the concurrently transmitted movies.

The BBC movies were networked, but the ITV movies were rotated through the various UK regions, never playing simultaneously in more than two areas. It was from this uniquely ‘pure’ situation for statistical study, without any complications of lead-in effect and with a base (BBC) against several alternatives (ITV), that a trial and error study of the ratings results began. Eventually it became possible to identify the relativity of the appeal factors (stars, story types etc) in the various movies to match the audience measurement reports.

The relativity of these appeal factors was signified by standard weightings. The sum of the weightings was called the PAR (Potential Audience Return) score. The first weightings formula was crude to a degree, however after nine months a reasonable accuracy was reached in 1967 to fulfil the original intentions of the system- an actual weekly forecasting of audience shares and ratings as a media buying tool.

However in 1968 the major London ITV operator asked for help in evaluating movie packages - a contract quickly extended to include series, concepts, scripts, promotional strategies, scheduling etc. This type of contract became common after TAPE’s expansion into Australia in 1973, New Zealand in 1975, Hong Kong and Canada in 1976 and, after an 18 month test, a major US Network in 1976.

There has been a steady progression from that original study in 1964, and TAPE has continually refined, adapted and applied its unique system to advise the burgeoning global media business.