Convict and its victims

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The Independent Online
If programme-makers use concept testing to find out what people like, advertising agencies claim that with the appliance of science they are already tuned into people's viewing preferences. The media-buying agency CIA Medianetwork claims to have a piece of software, Convict, that can match viewers to programmes if they provide a list of their three favourite shows. Four Independent journalists decided to put it to the test. Match your taste to theirs, and to that of the computer:

Glenda Cooper, social affairs correspondent, chose Pride & Prejudice, This Life and Friends.

Convict picked: Cybill, Frasier, Heart of the Matter, Harry Hill Show, Leaving Las Vegas, The Simpsons, Home Improvement, Brookside, Ricki Lake, The X Files, Father Ted, Top of the Pops and GMTV.

Glenda Cooper's verdict: Frasier, Leaving Las Vegas and The Simpsons are spot on, but after that - oh dear. Father Ted I do enjoy, but don't see every week, ditto Heart of the Matter and The X Files.

The software obviously thinks I'm fluff personified: Cybill - urgh, Ricki Lake I'd only watch if I was ill in bed, and I haven't watched Top of the Pops since I realised all the presenters were younger than me. Home Improvement - well, I had to ask whether it was a DIY programme, so that says it all. And I'm sure GMTV was as fascinated by Mr Darcy's breeches as I was, but I think that's the only thing we've got in common.

Steve Boggan, senior reporter, chose Horizon, Match of the Day and Star Trek.

Convict picked: They Think It's All Over, The X Files, Deep Space Nine, Price of Vengeance, Sportsnight, The Simpsons, snooker, Adventures of Superman, Top Gear, Rugby League cup final, horse-racing, Have I Got News for You.

Steve Boggan's verdict: Almost completely wrong. The only programmes I would watch out of this lot are Have I Got News for You, The X Files and the football, although I am a recent convert to The Simpsons.

Perhaps it's partly my fault - I'm too busy to watch television and so just tape a few lightweight items to view when I can. It is quite ridiculous to believe you can predict people's viewing preferences from three of their favourites. That assumes that no one has eclectic tastes.

I would rather remove my eyeballs with a corkscrew than watch snooker, horse-racing, the Adventures of Superman, Top Gear and the Rugby League cup final.

Lucy Ward, education correspondent, chose Pride & Prejudice, This Life and Channel 4 News.

Convict picked: Hollyoaks, Brookside, Today at Wimbledon, Pharoahs and Kings, Being There, Smith & Jones, Friends, Clive Anderson, Heart of the Matter, Horizon Special.

Lucy Ward's verdict: Does this computer know something about me that I don't suspect myself? I would rather be subjected to the Antiques Roadshow omnibus than watch Hollyoaks and I have never even heard of Pharoahs and Kings or Being There. Friends is a good choice, and so are Heart of the Matter and Horizon, but three right out of 10 seems a rather low strike rate. Please can I have someone else's list instead?

Randeep Ramesh, transport correspondent, chose: The O-Zone, TFI Friday, Newsnight.

Convict picked: cricket highlights programmes, Eurotrash, Secrets of Lost Empire, It Came from Outer Space, Harry Hill Show, Yes Prime Minister, French & Saunders, Drop the Dead Donkey, Friends, Bar Mitzvah, Shooting Stars.

Randeep Ramesh's verdict: Four out of 11 right. Seven out of 11 wrong. I have not even heard of Secrets of Lost Empire, It Came from Outer Space or Bar Mitzvah - let alone watched any of them.

As for evening of Yes Prime Minister, Eurotrash and Shooting Stars, I would rather read the Yellow Pages. I would, however, forgo the telephone directory for The Simpsons, the cricket, re-runs of French & Saunders and the odd episode of Friendsn

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