28 “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? 29 For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, 30 saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’

Luke 14:28-30

It’s not just building towers that requires some research before starting out broadcast services – new and ongoing – need the same. Feba UK is part of Intersearch, a collaborative network of Christian broadcasters, undertaking and sharing research.

Research is vital to broadcasters, helping them to understand their audience; for example, identifying things like popular times for listening to the radio and the availability of technology, as well as the audience’s attitude to faith issues or concerns about health. With this information partners can find openings for a Christian voice, at the right times and on the right platform for the intended audience. Once broadcast services are on air, research helps find out whether the audience is listening and if their attitudes and behaviour are changing through what they hear in the programmes.

Research helps partners find appropriate openings for a Christian voice.

Without research, Feba’s partners run the risk of creating content to answer questions that no-one is interested in, or of broadcasting on a medium that no-one uses any more. There is always the danger of ideas looking good on paper but having little impact if they use technology that no-one in the audience has access to. The main principle of research is to obtain unbiased information, which sometimes can show unexpected and maybe unwanted results, challenging the thinking and delivery behind a broadcast service.

The main principle of research is to obtain unbiased information

Working and learning together

Intersearch started in 1992 at an inaugural meeting in Sheffield, UK. A group of Christian broadcasters met with long time Feba friend, Graham Mytton (at that time, head of research for BBC World Service) to set up what became known first as ICRE, International Conference for Research in Evangelism. This consortium of organisations banded together to share the costs of buying audience research data. Now in 2018, Intersearch has just completed its first year under a new charter to operate more as a collaborative body that works and learns together. Learning from each other helps sharpen our abilities to plan, implement and present our own primary research, as well as sharing research in the public domain. Working together enables us to join with others in buying secondary research that is not in the public domain, as well as undertaking large scale primary research together.

Who’s listening?

Last year, our partner, BBN in Sierra Leone, wanted to know how many people were listening to their programmes. BBC Media Action had completed recent research but BBN were too small to be listed in their published results. Through the network of members at Intersearch, Feba UK was able to obtain information about BBN from the unpublished data – in this instance at no extra cost. The data will set a baseline for BBN and as they work to grow their audience they will be able to measure the effect of their efforts, if they can continue to access updated audience size research.

Prayer suggestions for Intersearch

Find more suggestions for prayer in: This month in prayer