National Readership Survey (NRS) and Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABCs) council members will meet next month to decide whether to go ahead with the move.
The appointment of a joint chief comes at an opportune moment: NRS managing director Roger Pratt and ABC chief executive Chris Boyd are both due to step down from their respective roles later this year.
The appointment of a joint chief is just one of several measures the two bodies are considering - such as merging their public relations operations. It is not thought that the ABC and NRS will look to offer combined data for media buyers and planners.
However, media buyers criticised the idea, with one arguing that the appointment of a joint chief executive will not address concerns regarding the robustness of NRS data.
He said: "NRS is an important tool, but it still suffers from recording wild fluctuations and is not very robust. I don't see how the appointment of a joint chief executive will change anything."
The NRS faced criticism last year after it was forced to delay the release of the first readership figures for London free papers, thelondonpaper and London Lite, because the survey sample size was too small. It has since released more comprehensive data on newspaper and magazine reading habits.
This article was first published on Media Week