BBM Canada measurements are skewed towards English- and French-language households, leaving multi-lingual broadcasters without the hard numbers they need to justify charging higher advertising rates. "There's no question we under-represent people who have difficulty conversing in English," says Jim Macleod, CEO of BBM Canada. He notes that meters are typically deployed to households that speak one of Canada's official languages, adding that many recent immigrants come from countries with repressive governments and are suspicious of such monitoring. "They don't want their televisions hooked up and tracked." Although ethnic programming in Canada is growing to meet the demand of a diverse population, audience measurement systems don't accurately report third-language viewing, leaving multi-lingual broadcasters struggling to charge appropriate advertising rates. "The market for ethnic programming is growing," says Art Reitmayer, CEO of Channel M, a Vancouver-based television station. "But measurement services like BBM and Nielsen only measure English-speaking audiences in BC." Started in 2002, Channel M caters to multi-lingual audiences with free, over-the-air programming. The station produces in-house newscasts in Punjabi, Cantonese, Mandarin, Korean and Tagalog, and enjoyed double-digit growth in its viewership during its first two years of operations. But Channel M conducts its own annual surveys to validate its television audience numbers because no official measurement is done in Canada, says Reitmayer. BBM Canada has about 500 television-tracking meters installed throughout Vancouver, he explains. "But these are deployed to English-speaking homes, and the results are then extrapolated to the entire market." This is a factor that works against small private broadcasters who produce content for ethnic audiences, says Reitmayer. Channel M was recently purchased by Rogers Media after being denied CRTC licences to expand its operations to Edmonton and Calgary. Without accurate numbers, the advertising rates set by the industry are understated for multi-lingual content, he says. "Although there are advertisers and content producers for ethnic programming, the currency that exists is these rating services. We have to see more clean-up of this issue so that rating services in Canada actually mirror the market." From a statistical perspective, it's also difficult to get a representative sample of any group that comprises less than 10% of the population into BBM's surveys, says Macleod. "In Vancouver, only Punjabi, Mandarin and Cantonese are over that threshold. That still leaves half of the ethnic population out." There are similar issues in Toronto and Montreal, although the languages may be different, he adds. To overcome language and cultural barriers, enrolments in measurement programs would need to be conducted in a multitude of languages, he says. "In Vancouver, we're experimenting with recruiting staff who speak other languages, but it's an ad hoc pilot - we don't have a formal plan for this." Although BBM has had discussions with Rogers and other Canadian broadcasters about the issue, there is no push to measure multi-lingual audiences. "We're all aware it's somewhere we need to go. We're in the process of replacing our metering technology, and if it results in recruiting new panellists, this will be a topic for discussion." It's also a matter of money says Bob Reaume, VP of policy and research at the Association of Canada Advertisers (ACA). From Vancouver's survey population of 500, it would be difficult to get representative samples from every small group. "BBM could increase the size of the survey to include even the smallest minority, but it would need a much larger total survey population of say, 6000 households - and that's not cost-effective," he says. Broadcasters pool their resources to fund national measurement services such as BBM, he says. "It's unfortunate that Channel M's audience is reported as artificially low. I can sympathize, as there are many organizations that would like to know and advertise to smaller ethnic groups." He points out that many companies such as Proctor & Gamble and the Royal Bank have their commercials dubbed in other languages. But the numbers haven't reached the critical mass yet where the whole research infrastructure needs to change. "For what it does, BBM does pretty well. They have to represent the largest portions of the population, which is what marketers' interest is in it."