False Alarm On New TV Ratings Bill

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New York Rep. Vito Fossella's office put out a release yesterday, picked up by at least one news service, saying the Television Viewer Consumer Protection Act was being unveiled Tuesday, Aug. 9.

What? Yet another TV ratings bill—and somehow introduced when Congress is on its summer break, no less? “Over the past year, we have learned of systemic problems that have prevented minimum standards for ratings accuracy set by the Media Rating Council from being met,” the New York Rebublican said in the release.

False alarm, or at least late alarm. Turns out there were some systematic problems in the "dating" accuracy of the release.

The bill, essentially the House version of the bill introduced by Sen. Conrad Burns (R-Mont.) that would attempt to "ensure fairness and accuracy in television ratings" by adding government oversight one step removed, was actually introduced almost a month ago (July 14).

"Sounds like a mistake," said a staffer in Fossella's office, whose release was picked up by e-mail service Government Policy Newslinks Wednesday.

Was that a sigh of relief we just heard at Nielsen headquarters, which would argue that introducing the Nielsen-targeted bill back in July was the first mistake.

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