Tribune Backs Burns Ratings Bill

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Tribune Broadcasting, a vocal critic of Nielsen Media Research’s new local people meter ratings system, is applauding a new bill introduced by Senator Conrad Burns (R-Mont.) last Friday in Congress that would require Media Ratings Council approval for a new ratings service from Nielsen or any other ratings company.

“This bill appropriately restores the authority that the Congress clearly intended the industry to have to ensure minimum standards for ratings accuracy,” Tribune said in a statement.

Tribune Broadcasting President Pat Mullen recently sent a letter to Nielsen chief executive Susan Whiting asking the ratings giant to wait for MRC approval before rolling out in new markets.

Nielsen went ahead and launched LPMs in Washington and Philadelphia June 30, even though the MRC will not review audits for several months.

Last week, in a letter to clients, Nielsen said it would pay for an independent audit of future markets and submit them to the MRC before rollout of LPM's, but it did not promise to delay roll-outs until MRC approval. Dallas, Detroit and Atlanta are slated to move to LPMs next year.

Nielsen is opposed to any legislation and says it wants to work voluntarily with its clients.  
The bill, Nielsen says, “ would benefit only those companies who want to maintain the status quo in the television industry.  It would introduce more federal regulation of television, more bureaucracy, slower introduction of new technology, higher costs, less competition, and less accurate ratings.  It would also violate antitrust laws and transform the Media Rating Council into a virtual arm of the federal government.”   

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