Given the emphasis placed on TV ratings for the 7 o'clock time slot, for example, would you please explain how these ratings are calculated? Chris Biltcliff, Birkenhead.

Programme ratings show the average number of people who tuned into a programme at any given time and are expressed in thousands or as a percentage (known as a rating) of the total potential audience of the demographic selected. It is also known as a TARP (Target Audience Rating Point).

Ratings are measured by a device called a PeopleMeter. A PeopleMeter is a box which sits on top of every television set within a house on the panel. It electronically records what programme is being watched at any given time.

As each member of the household comes into the room to watch television, they press a button on the PeopleMeter handset, which tells the PeopleMeter exactly who is watching and what they are watching.
The viewing information is automatically fed through the phone lines each day to a central computer at AGB Nielsen Media Research, the research company that runs the PeopleMeter system. Currently 600 households are on the PeopleMeter panel across the country and all age groups to provide a representative sample of New Zealanders.


This information is used to evaluate who is watching television and when, and whether programmes are popular or not. The system used in New Zealand for measuring ratings is used worldwide.

The ratings service is independently audited every month. Since January last year new technology has been introduced to allow for time-shifted viewing (those programmes that you record and watch later). As well, technology now allows for digital as well as analogue television sets.

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At the SH1 on-ramp at East Tamaki Rd heading north, there is a give-way sign for cars turning left on to the on-ramp. However, is there any use for it when the on-ramp has two lanes, one directly leading from the lane where the give-way traffic is at, and one for those turning right at the traffic lights from East Tamaki Rd on to the on-ramp? The two lanes never merge and the traffic from the give-way sign would appear to have a free access to the on-ramp. Tasi Raut, Auckland.

The NZ Transport Agency says the give-way sign is there to help trucks safely negotiate the left turn. They often need more width than is provided within the existing marked left turn lane so the sign helps to manage traffic at the intersection. It is not possible to widen the on-ramp to provide more room for a left turn because of the proximity of nearby properties.

I recently had an exchange of views about boat speed restrictions on the Waitemata Harbour. Can you settle the argument please? Kevin Peters, North Shore.

The Harbourmaster advises the following:

1. A 5-knot maximum speed for vessels within 200m of the shore.

2. A 5-knot maximum speed for vessels within 50m of another vessel or person in the water.

3. A 12-knot maximum speed for the area between North Head and the harbour bridge because of the high volume of vessels using this area.

There are some exceptions to these speed limits but generally speaking, they are the limits in force.