Nielsen Media Research has begun a new phase in its campaign to counter criticism of its "Local People Meters."
The research company has contracted with University of Southern California's Tomás Rivera Policy Institute (TRPI), an independent Latino policy research organization, to review the findings of the National Latino Media Council's Latino Television Study, a study conducted last year that concluded that Nielsen under-counted TV viewing by Latino viewers in the U.S.
Nielsen says that the Latino Media Council's study is flawed in a number of ways, including the fact that it only surveyed viewers in four markets (New York, Los Angeles, Miami and San Antonio) and thus isn't representative of the entire Latino population in the country.
"Having measured audiences for more than a half century, Nielsen is committed to accuracy in all its measurements," said Susan Whiting, President and CEO of Nielsen Media Research. "After we reviewed the study, we had serious questions regarding its objectivity, reliability and methodology. Accordingly, we sought an independent third-party analysis from nationally known scholars to review and independently audit the study."
The move followed closely on the heals of a DVD Nielsen sent out to the press, politicians and activist groups explaining and defending the local People Meter service. Nielsen is trying to roll out local People Meters in 10 markets over the next two years.
A coalition of Latino groups and others, the Don't Count Us Out Coalition (DCUOC), is protesting the planned July rollout of the service in L.A. A similar protest by the group in New York was followed by a Nielsen decision to delay the April rollout of the service there.
Responding to Nielsen's announcement, Alex Nogales, president of the National Hispanic Media Coalition, said: "Nielsen has simply decided to hire its own research firm to dispute the findings of a previous study instead of actually addressing the concerns raised by the National Latino Media Council report and address its own methodology."
Nogales also echoed the call of the DCUOC for an independent review of Nielsen's data. Nielsen has pointed out before that it is already independently audited by the Media Rating Council (specifically the accounting firm of Ernst & Young).