Charmaine Gauci’s COVID-19 updates led to TV audience spike, study shows

Charmaine Gauci's daily COVID-19 bulletins at 12:30pm for three whole months were followed closely with a Broadcasting Authority survey showing that TV audiences in March shot up by 18.2% when compated to the previous survey in November last year

Public Health Superintendent Charmaine Gauci’s daily broadcasts attracted TV viewership with audience numbers more than doubling when compared to November, a Broadcasting Authority survey shows.

Gauci was on TV everyday at 12:30pm to give a daily update on the coronavirus situation in Malta. In that timeslot, approximately 40,000 people tuned in on TV, up from 17,400 in November 2019.

Television audiences during March increased by 18.2% over the previous assessment in November, the BA said.

With 73.2% of the population watching television, it was the highest registered audience numbers since the assessment was carried out. This represents an increase of 9.8% over March 2019.

On the other hand, radio registered a sharp decline, with a 12% decrease in the number of listeners.

44.7% tuned in to radio in March. This was the third lowest since February 2014.

The numbers can be explained by the extraordinary circumstances caused by the pandemic that left people at home. This appears to have translated in more TV viewing but less radio listeners as drive-time hours were spent at home.

Overall, while 72.9% of all viewers followed local TV stations, as much as 27.1% watched a foreign station.

TVM registered the highest viewership, with 41.4%, with the Labour Party’s ONE TV coming second at 17.3%. The Nationalist Party’s NET Television registered a mere 7.5%.


“While in previous assessments audiences rose steadily throughout the day, this time there was a marked increase in audiences from those at mid-morning to those at noon – in November 2019 average morning audiences amounted to approximately 12,800 while in this assessment audiences were a clear 30% more,” the report read.

The favourite programme genre was local and foreign news at 26.5%, with local drama coming second (14.5%) and current affairs and discussion programmes coming third (10.5%).

The most common type of reception service provided to television viewers is through a paid subscription, with 91.8% of respondents stating so. There also was an increase of Netflix subscriptions with an increase of 8.9%.

In radio, 89.7 Bay registered the largest audiences, at 20.4% of the population, followed by ONE Radio with 19.8% and Radju Malta at 12.5%.

The study sample was of 1,240 respondents, with the youngest being 12-year-olds. The study has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.7%.

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