Nielsen Receives Ratings Advice

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After an eight-month review, the Independent Task Force on Television Measurement unveiled its recommendations Wednesday to Nielsen Media Research to improve the company’s television-ratings services.

The 19-member task force, headed by former Rep. Cardiss Collins, called on Nielsen to improve the sample for its new Local People Meter electronic measurement system, which has drawn fire for undercounting minorities. Other suggestions called for improving Nielsen’s field force, internal diversity and public communications.

 Nielsen President and CEO Susan Whiting said the task force’s priority was to help “Nielsen do a better job of measuring America’s highly diverse and changing population.”  The company has pledged to adopt many of the recommendations. Whiting said Nielsen’s clients and the Media Ratings Council, which accredits audience measurement, will need to support changes.

Topping the task force’s list were Nielsen’s controversial LPMs, currently in place in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Boston, and slated to roll out soon in Atlanta, Dallas, Washington and Philadelphia. LPMs “can more accurately measure the diverse viewing audience,” than the paper logs or “diaries” they replace, the Task Force noted. But, the report says, urbanized TV markets present more challenges. Among the suggestions to improve the sample were financial incentives and a new recruitment video. The task force also studied Nielsen’s field operations, concluding that multilingual written materials, female representatives and cultural training would aid in minority recruitment.

The task force posted its full report on www.everyonecounts.tv.

The group was formed in April 2004 on the recommendation of Rep. Charles B. Rangel (D-N.Y.) in response to concerns that LPMs were not accurately counting minority viewers. In presenting its findings to Nielsen, Rep. Collins said, “I believe the report will be extremely helpful in your efforts to ensure accurate measurement of persons of color.”

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