MRC Clams Up on Meters

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In a public statement, the Media Ratings Council said Tuesday that it has decided not to put out any more public statements on the issue of Nielsen Media Research's rollout of "Local People Meters" in New York June 3.

In that farewell statement, it warned that Nielsen clients should neither sponsor nor carry advertising that could alter participation in Nielsen surveys. Various groups have taken out such ads discouraging participation in the roll-out of the new TV audience measurement meters because they argue the meters undercount minorities.
Nielsen says they just better count the exodus of those viewers to other outlets.
The MRC, a ratings accreditation board made up of Nielsen clients, says it will communicate "directly to the organizations involved" because is didn't want its public statements to prompt reaction from critics and possibly exacerbate efforts by those critics to skew the sample.
It also included a spur to Nielsen to take "immediate" action to address the concerns raised by
MRC when it withheld accreditation of the service. Nielsen went ahead and launched the Local People Meters June 3, while allowing clients to still use the old diary methods if they chose. "Time is of the essence," for the fixes, said a spokesman.
Bolstering MRC's case, the statement prompted an angry  reaction from Nielsen critics. "Instead of stifling debate, the MRC should be calling on Nielsen to release the audit and delay further implementation of the flawed system," said the Don't Count Us Out Coalition," a collection of Hispanic and other minority activist groups, with the backing of Nielsen client, Fox, whose New York stations' ratings are adversely affected by the switch to the meters.

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